HomeNewsBriefMessi Latest Soccer Star Embroiled in Drug Trafficking Scandal
BRIEF

Messi Latest Soccer Star Embroiled in Drug Trafficking Scandal

COLOMBIA / 17 DEC 2013 BY CHARLES PARKINSON EN

The father of Argentina and Barcelona soccer star Lionel Messi is under investigation for laundering drug money, in the latest scandal offering evidence that ties between organized crime and soccer have spread from Latin America to Europe. 

The Central Operations Unit (UCO) of Spain's Civil Guard has opened an investigation into allegations Jorge Messi, father and finance manager to one of the world's most prominent soccer players, is on the payroll of Colombian drug traffickers reported El Mundo.

Jorge Messi stands accused of laundering money by staging major charitable events and manipulating so-called "Row Zero" tickets, whereby people paid for tickets without the intention of attending because the money was for charity. According to El Mundo, the sale of such tickets was carried out in a manner impossible to track. Jorge Messi is accused of taking a cut of between ten and 20 percent of the money being laundered. 

The events include the recent "Messi and Friends" tour, which saw the superstar visit international locations to play in charity matches alongside other world famous players, reported El Mundo.

The Messi and Friends tour passed through Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami, as well as the Peruvian capital Lima, and Cancun in Mexico, before ending in Colombia's second-largest city, Medellin, during the summer of 2013. The Medellin game followed a similar match in Bogota in 2012, however organizers reported major financial losses due to poor attendance. 

Four current players for FC Barcelona -- Messi's club team -- have been questioned as part of the investigation: Messi himself; Javier Mascherano; Daniel Alves; and Jose Manuel Pinto. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Should the investigation into Jorge Messi bring legal action and possible conviction, it would send shockwaves throughout the soccer world.

However, it is not the first such case to surface recently. Jose Luis Perez Caminero, a former Spain international and current director of Atletico Madrid, is also subject of a money laundering investigation, and stands accused of having links to Mexican and Colombian organized crime. 

Such links between organized crime and soccer have long been common in Latin America -- just earlier this year, clubs in Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile were raided and accused of being used as money laundering hubs. With two high profile scandals now hitting Spanish soccer in quick succession, this could be an indication Latin American organized crime is now also establishing a presence within one of the most highly regarded soccer leagues in the world, which would help launder the proceeds from the European drug market -- a revenue source of growing importance.  

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BOLIVIA / 23 SEP 2022

As world leaders met for the United Nations General Assembly, Latin American presidents expressed various concerns about organized crime.

BRAZIL / 20 FEB 2021

Drug traffickers engage in a creative game of hide and seek with coast guards and other security forces that board…

BRAZIL / 4 MAY 2021

Brazil, Colombia and Peru have deployed their armies to fight deforestation and other crimes in the Amazon rainforest.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…