The Panama Papers, a leak of 11.5 million internal law firm documents related to the creation of offshore shell companies by the world’s financial elite, is kind of a big deal. When every outlet reporting on the leak makes sure to say that the data dump is “believed to be the largest investigation in history”, you know it’s more than just a passing curiosity. While the fallout remains to be seen, the world is quite rightly up in arms thanks to the clear evidence we have that the richest people in the world are making shady end runs around their tax obligations.
With 14,000 listed clients of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca in the Panama Papers, there were bound to be connections to the world of football. Sure enough, a handful of figures involved in the planet’s most popular athletic endeavor have used the firm to set up shell companies in a variety of New World countries. Because the reasons for doing so are quite often nefarious, the natural conclusion is all of the men (and it’s only men, of course) involved in the documents are hiding their money.
It’s no surprise to see the name of a number of FIFA officials, including Jerome Valcke, the disgraced former General Secretary of the organization. Valcke might be the must underrated crook in the FIFA fold; his secret collection of wealth and illicit use of FIFA funds for personal use is almost laudable in its brazenness and long term secrecy. Valcke wasn’t alone, of course, and the other names on the list will only cause further headaches for the embattled group of soccer administrators.
The biggest name in the Panama Papers from a football perspective, however, is undoubtedly Barcelona great Lionel Messi. The consensus greatest player in the world has long been dogged by allegations of tax evasion, so his ties to the offshore banking scandal will only exacerbate those problems. Even as we speak, Spanish authorities are in the midst of investigating Messi and his father over income not declared in the country.
While the soccer community is only slowly waking up to the size of the Panama Papers scandal, Twitter has managed to do the Twitter thing and throw some quippy brilliance at the story. Most of it is Messi-related, because of course it is. He’s Messi.
So with that in mind, here are 17 tweets about the soccer parts of the Panama Papers scandal—believed to be the largest investigation in history. Ahem.