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.  

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.

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 27 MAR 2018

Medellín, Colombia is a city of paradoxes. Its multifacted nature is showcased in a powerful new exhibition that tells a…

COLOMBIA / 9 JUN 2011

Colombia's police arrested 23 of their own officers, 15 of them accused of working with drug trafficking gang…

COLOMBIA / 14 APR 2014

More details have emerged on the transport and seizure of a record seven tons of cocaine at the Colombian port…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …