Messi’s charity match in Chicago loses its luster

Lionel Messi’s charity match at Chicago’s Soldier Field has lost

some of its star-studded luster.

The ”Messi and Friends” match, to be played Saturday night,

was originally supposed to feature 36 international stars,

including Messi’s Barcelona teammate Cesc Fabregas, Mexico

midfielder Giovani dos Santos and Polish striker Robert

Lewandowski, who scored all four goals in Borussia Dortmund’s 4-1

victory over Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals.

But most of the big names have dropped out, and four former

American collegiate players had to be added to the roster simply to

be able to stage the game.

Former France and Arsenal striker Thierry Henry is still

scheduled to play, while Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar, France

midfielder Florent Malouda, and Messi’s Barcelona and Argentina

teammate Javier Mascherano were late additions to the lineup.

About 25,000 tickets have been sold for the match, which is to

benefit the Leo Messi Foundation for sick and at-risk children in


”We’re definitely here not to disappoint anyone. We’ve tried to

bring the best in the world. Unfortunately, lineups are subject to

change,” said Ada Linares, the match’s project manager.

”We have tried to meet the rosters, and sometimes some of the

players have personal agendas that they decide they want to do. …

If their team, at the end of the day says, `You’ve got to come

back,’ we have nothing that we can do.”

Messi was to have had a second charity match Wednesday in Los

Angeles, but it was canceled in a dispute with promoters.