Commentary

Lionel Messi needs to get better advice

For a guy who seems to have all the money he'll ever need, one wonders why Lionel Messi ever got mixed up with Messi & Friends. In the summer of 2012 and 2013, Messi played a series of all-star games in Colombia, Mexico and United States. The second year was a fiasco, and Spanish Guardia Civil investigators are now looking into charges that the matches were arranged by drug cartels to launder money.

A Spanish judge has moved the case from Madrid to Barcelona, where Messi plays. The Spanish investigation has been going on for almost two years as Messi and three then-Barcelona teammates -- Javier Mascherano, Jose Pinto and Daniel Alves -- reportedly were questioned. The Spanish daily El Mundo reported in June that the DEA was investigating Leo Messi Foundation, Messi's charity arm run by his father Jorge, for possible ties to a Mexican drug cartel. It believes the Los Valencia Cartel organized a tour of popular Mexican ranchero singer Vicente Fernandez and Messi & Friends to launder money.

Games were played in Bogota, Colombia, Cancun, Mexico, and Miami in 2012 and Medellin, Colombia, Lima, Peru, and Chicago in 2013. An event in Los Angeles two years was canceled, and when the tour got to Chicago many of Messi's friends had baled. To come up with enough players, promoters recruited 10 players from Northwestern. One of them, Matt Eliason, scored on a bicycle kick that was the highlight of the 9-6 game televised by ESPN.

In December 2013, Leo Messi Management released a statement from Jorge Messi that the tour had been organized by an unnamed third party and his sole responsibility was to sure some of the proceeds went to charity. El Mundo reported that some of the charities are still waiting for their money.

This is not the first time Messi has been in trouble with Spanish authorities. He and his father have been involved in a long-standing tax case in which they have voluntarily paid taxes and penalties on income that had at first been accounted as from his image rights and hidden in tax havens in Belize and Uruguay. But in June, a Spanish court rejected Messi's argument that he should not face tax fraud charges because he had no knowledge of what was going on, paving the way for prosecutors to go forward with three counts of tax fraud against Messi and his father.

Messi isn't the first player who's had a run-in with tax authorities. On Barcelona alone, Mascherano was just charged with two counts of tax fraud, and Brazilian teammate Neymar faces tax fraud charges in both Spain and Brazil, where courts froze $47 million in assets. Nor is Messi the first player whose overly ambitious father got him in trouble.

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But Jorge Messi had no business getting his son mixed up in the Messi & Friend tour. The last thing Leo needed after long seasons with Barcelona was to play into the summer. His lack of rest was evident the last two summers as Argentina finished second at the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Copa America. Messi was a non-factor in both finals.

One of the strongest arguments against the 2016 Copa Centenario is players need a break. Let's hope Messi finally gets some good advice from his father and takes a rest next summer.

4 comments about "Lionel Messi needs to get better advice".
  1. beautiful game, September 30, 2015 at 11 a.m.

    Scam artists always find their prey. In this instance the prey didn't perform due diligence.

  2. Santiago 1314, October 1, 2015 at 10:05 a.m.

    Mascherano, Tambien??? La Hacienda after him also??? ... Say it ain't so.!?!?... I'll bet The Catalans can't Vote themselves OUT of Spain Fast Enough.!!!

  3. Santiago 1314, October 1, 2015 at 10:13 a.m.

    At least if they have their own Country, "Farca" players won't have any problem Laundering Drug Lord money, Taking Growth Hormones, Running a Slave Youth Academy, Paying Players Under the Table and ...??? Who knows what else they've been UP to.???...

  4. Santiago 1314, October 1, 2015 at 10:16 a.m.

    I'm sure it's all Franco's Fault.!!!... Oops... According to my Sources at SNL.."Generalissimo Francisco Franco is Still Dead"

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