Police deny Messi’s dad linked to drug money

Spanish police are investigating the Colombian promoters of charity football events starring Barcelona star Lionel Messi for possible laundering of drug money, sources said on Monday.

Police deny Messi's dad linked to drug money
"He had nothing to do with this firm," the source said, playing down a report in Spanish daily El Mundo, which had described Messi senior as being "at the centre" of the affair. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Neither the 26-year-old Messi, nor his relatives, nor other football stars who played in the charity games were suspected of any wrongdoing, said a source close to the police investigation.

"There is a Colombian company that laundered money and also organized charity games," said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

There was no evidence, however, that the "Messi and Friends" charity football games were themselves linked to money laundering, the source said.

The Argentine international's father, Jorge Messi, represented the player for his participation in the charity games but had no link with the Colombian company or knowledge of illegal acts, the source said.

"He had nothing to do with this firm," the source said, playing down a report in Spanish daily El Mundo, which had described Messi senior as being "at the centre" of the affair.

The Colombian company, which has not been identified, organised the "Messi and Friends" games and other charity events including concerts, the source said.

According to the source, police took statements from several Barcelona players but they were unaware of any illegal activity. El Mundo named the players as Messi, Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano and goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto.

A Madrid examining magistrates' court, presided over by Judge Eduardo Lopez Palop, is supervising the investigation of the case, which has been placed under seal, judicial sources said.

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‘Diego is eternal’: Messi pays tribute to Maradona

Lionel Messi paid tribute to Diego Maradona on Wednesday by calling him "eternal" after his fellow Argentine died of a heart attack.

'Diego is eternal': Messi pays tribute to Maradona
Diego Maradona hugs Lionel Messi after 2010 World Cup quarter final Argentina vs Germany. Photo: AFP

“A very sad day for all Argentines and football,” Messi wrote on Instagram. “He has left us but he will never leave us because Diego is eternal. I will keep all the beautiful moments that I lived with him and would like to send my condolences to all his family and friends. RIP.”






A post shared by Leo Messi (@leomessi)

Messi and Maradona have often been compared in the debate about who was the greatest footballer of all time.

Both players are icons in Argentina and have been likened to each other due to their global status, dribbling style and famous number 10 shirts.    

Maradona was also Messi's coach during his brief time in charge of the national team, which included Argentina being thrashed by Germany in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals.

A banner held up during 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 25, 2014. Photo: AFP


Maradona spent two years at Barcelona, where Messi is now captain and the club's all-time top scorer, although Maradona's greatest years were spent with Napoli in Italy.

Asked about Maradona in 2010, Messi said: “Even if I played for a million years, I'd never come close to Maradona. Not that I'd want to anyway. He's the greatest there's ever been.”