BARCELONA - Barcelona star Lionel Messi defended himself, his family and fellow players on Friday against press reports linking charity football matches he played in to alleged laundering of Colombian drug money. In his first personal reaction to the allegations that emerged on Monday, the striker insisted the benefit matches were “100 percent charitable”. “I deeply regret what is being said not only about me but about people I love such as my dad and players who are my friends,” he said. Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported the player’s father Jorge Messi is suspected of being involved in an operation to launder Colombian drug money through charity football matches featuring Messi and some of his Barcelona teammates. “What we do in those matches is 100 percent charitable,” Messi said.–AFP