Lionel Messi and Father Cleared in Money-Laundering Scandal

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVDecember 16, 2013

BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 06:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group H match Between FC Barcelona and AC Milan at Camp Nou on November 6, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Jorge Messi, the father of Barcelona star Lionel Messi, has been cleared by investigators after a Spanish newspaper report claimed he was under investigation for money laundering in connection with drug traffickers.    

According to Marca, Spanish investigators came forward to refute the allegations from El Mundo (via Neil McLeman of the Mirror) that Jorge Messi was being looked into as being involved with the alleged money laundering surrounding fundraising matches for Messi and Friends, a popular charity. 

Lionel Messi Management, of which Jorge Messi is the president, also adamantly denied the reports and urged action from El Mundo in a statement to AFP (via Yahoo! Sports): 

"Jorge Messi has never been connected to the case," LMM said in a statement. "He has not been investigated or called to testify, much less charged," it added.

"We hope that the newspaper El Mundo will correct the published story in line with the information released by the Interior Ministry," it said.

According to AFP, Spain police say a Colombian promoter who organizes various charity events is being suspected of laundering drug money through various concerts and sporting events.

Among those events are some charity matches put on by Messi and Friends—the popular footballer's charity organization. But according to Spanish investigators, no wrongdoing is suspected from Jorge Messi in the incident.     

Investigators also cleared the names of four Barcelona players—Daniel Alves, Pinto and Javier Mascherano along with Lionel Messi—who were interviewed by the Spanish Civil Guard. According to Marca, there was no wrongdoing suspected during the interview, as officials were simply looking for information on who was organizing the charity soccer matches in which they played. 

Lionel Messi remains injured as he eyes a 2014 return to the pitch. His stellar 2013 campaign earned him honors as a FIFA Ballon d'Or finalist—an award given to the world's best footballer. He has won the award each year it's been given since its inception in 2010.

The 26-year-old has eight goals and four assists in 11 games played this La Liga season, coming off jaw-dropping goal totals of 50 and 46 in 2011-12 and 2012-13, respectively.