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Volume 6 No. 192


After Spanish daily El Mundo reported that Lionel Messi and his father, Jorge, were "involved in an investigation related to laundering money from drug related crimes," other "top Spanish sources" reported that the Spanish Civil Guard (UCO) and the Colombian entity in charge of the investigation have "cleared Jorge and Lionel Messi from any involvement" and "officially closed the investigation," according to beIN SPORT. The case involved a Colombia-based network that "organized sports events and concerts in both America and Europe to launder drug trafficking money." Some of the games under review were the "Messi & Friends" series of friendlies that were held over the past two summers, "some of which were in Bogota and Medellin, Colombia." For "that reason, the Spanish authorities called on Lionel Messi, Jose Pinto, Dani Alves and Javier Mascherano to testify as to what they knew of the actual organization of the event." But the OCU stated that the "Barcelona players and Jorge Messi were only called in as sources of information to further the investigation, but that they weren't the subject of the investigation themselves." The judge "in charge of the case in Madrid, Eduardo Lopez Palop, has cleared Jorge Messi and his son as he agrees they all participated without knowledge of any wrong doing" (beIN SPORT, 12/16). OLE reported Spain's Interior Ministry "denied the rumors." Messi's family is expected to "take legal action against El Mundo." It is "not the first time that Messi's name has been attacked by Spanish media." It happened previously "on the subject of taxes." This time, "the situation was more harsh -- implication in a network of money laundering and drug trafficking" (OLE, 12/16).

MESSIS RESPOND: SPORT reported the Messi family "has made public a statement." The statement said, "Leo Messi Management wishes to clarify the information published in El Mundo, which references Jorge Messi and the 'Messi & Friends' games from this year and last year. As the Interior Ministry and the UCO have made clear, Jorge Messi was never involved in this case. Nor was he investigated, called to testify or even accused" (SPORT, 12/16).

EL MUNDO REPORT: In Madrid, Herraiz & Alsedo reported that the "UCO has investigated since months ago a case of money laundering and drug trafficking, and at the epicenter of the movements is a name that stands out as a key piece of the puzzle: Jorge Messi." The case "has a look that makes it probable that it will end up in Spain's National Court, as it has international ramifications." The case began "with the discovery that events like sporting events and rock concerts were possibly being used by drug traffickers to launder enormous sums of money." There are "not specific figures, but we would be talking about millions of euros." The "suspected role of Jorge Messi would be one of a contact between the gangs and event organizers, a fundamental part of the framework." Government agents "suspect that Jorge Messi served as an intermediary to make his son and other athletes participate in the charity matches in exchange for a percentage of the money." The investigators believe that "the commission for Jorge Messi is between 10 and 20 percent of the laundered money, but they added that the investigation, which is very complex, is in its initial phase" (EL MUNDO, 12/16).

German public broadcaster ZDF "received high ratings for its winter sports broadcast on Sunday," according to Alexander Krei of DWDL. The men's biathlon pursuit race attracted an average of 3.96 million viewers early Sunday afternoon. The number translated into a market share of 25.3%. In the target demographic 14-49, the race obtained a 13.9% share. Ahead of the men's race, the women's pursuit race was watched by 3.29 million viewers. The broadcast on Sunday morning had a 24.3% market share. Later in the day, the ski cross race attracted 1.62 million viewers at 4:44pm and had a 9.2% share (DWDL, 12/16).

ON TARGET: DWDL's Krei also reported German sports network Sport1 "recorded top ratings for its women's Handball World Championship coverage." The round of 16 matchup between Germany and Angola attracted an average of 410,000 viewers on Sunday. The number equaled a market share of 2%, including 1.3% in the target demographic. In addition, Sport1's coverage of the PDC World Darts Championship was watched by 340,000. The broadcast obtained a 1.4% share in the target demographic (DWDL, 12/16).

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo "has launched his lastest venture -- his very own social network," according to Ben Burrows of the London MIRROR. The Facebook-like site "allows his millions of devoted fans" to share photos and videos and "get together for discussions all about CR7." The website,, "promises followers the chance to meet the Portuguese, access exclusive content and even an opportunity to play with the man himself" (MIRROR, 12/15).

Twitter has released its list of the top 10 sports tweets from 2013 and the "most-shared message came from" Cristiano Ronaldo. Following the retirement of former ManU Manager Alex Ferguson, Ronaldo tweeted, "Thanks for everything, Boss." The tweet included a picture from '03 of Ronaldo "at his mentor's side" and was re-tweeted by nearly 100,000 users. Four of the 10 most-shared tweets of the year came from NBA players (MARCA, 12/16). ... When FC Barcelona plays Man City on Feb. 18 in the Round of 16 of the Champions League, the first-leg match will be broadcast in Spain on both TVE and TV3. The second-leg match between the clubs, which will take place on March 12, will air in Spain on Canal+ (SPORT, 12/16).