Argentina's Lionel Messi wins libel case, donates damages to charity
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has been awarded nearly €65,000 in damages in a libel action and donated the money to charity.
The case was taken after a Madrid-based journalist, Alfonso Ussia, wrote an article in La Razon after Messi's Argentina lost to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final.
Ussia had criticised Messi's form and made reference to the hormone treatment the forward received as a youngster by describing him as "Nandrolono."
Messi left his home city of Rosario to join Barcelona aged 13 as the Catalan club were prepared to pay for the $900-a-month hormone treatment he needed to grow sufficiently to become a professional player.
This treatment did not breach any regulations and the 28-year-old has never failed a doping test over the course of his career.
The Audiencia Provincial de Barcelona court found that the article went outside the bounds of an opinion piece and ruled that La Razon, its editor Francisco Marhuenda and Ussia must pay €64,590.79 to the player. The money is to be donated to the charity Doctors without Borders.
The judgement said the views expressed in the article are "unnecessary and impertinent for the exposition of the ideas or opinions that the journalist attempts to transmit in the article, and are objectively insulting and offensive bearing in mind the dimension of the player's public image and the pluralism, tolerance and open spirit that should reign in a modern society."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan