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Lionel Messi philanthropy: What charities is the Barcelona star involved in giving money & raising money for?

It would not be an exaggeration to call Lionel Messi one of the greatest footballers of all time and as such, he is also one of the best-paid sports stars ever.

The Barcelona forward is estimated to take home around £500,000 ($625k) per week at the Spanish club, with his earnings from 2019 clocking in at approximately £309 million ($386m).

Messi is also a generous donator to charitable causes and Goal has looked at just some of the foundations he is involved with.

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What charities does Messi give money to?

During the coronavirus crisis of 2020, Messi made a reported donation of €1 million ($1.1m/£870k) to be split between Hospital Clinic in Catalunya and another health centre in Argentina.

"Leo Messi made a donation to the clinic to fight the coronavirus,” Hospital Clinic wrote on their Twitter page. "Thank you very much, Leo, for your commitment and your support."

During this time, in addition to his donations, Messi also led the Barcelona players in taking a 70 per cent pay cut as an act of solidarity to non-playing staff at the club, ensuring they will be paid fully.

The majority of Messi’s philanthropy comes through the Leo Messi Foundation (Fundacion Leo Messi), which provides a range of charitable services to those in need across the world.

Messi's organisation has a particular regard for improving the lives of children and investing in healthcare services around the world, particularly in his native Argentina and adopted homeland of Spain.

As well as financial donations towards everyday running costs, the Leo Messi Foundation has awarded research grants and helped to pay for training.

In February 2019, Messi’s foundation donated €200,000 (£175,000/$218,000) to Unicef projects in Kenya that allowed over 2,000 citizens access to free food and water.

Indeed, the Argentine's association with Unicef - who also work closely with Barcelona - stretches back to 2010, when he was appointed a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador, joining the likes of David Beckham and Shakira.

Since then, he has been involved in a number of campaigns, including the 'celebrate life' drive on the occasion of his son Thiago's first birthday, which sought to increase awareness around infant mortality rates.

As part of his ambassadorial role for Unicef, Messi has travelled to regions that have been drastically impacted by natural disasters, poverty, disease and various other crippling social disadvantages.

Like many footballers, Messi has retained a fondness for his roots and has also put some of his riches back into the football soil from which he sprung. 

For example, he helped to finance the construction of a gym for his schoolboy club Newell's Old Boys and provided money to help the running of local Rosario youth team Sarmiento from 2012 until 2014.

The Leo Messi Foundation has also worked with the Special Olympics in Catalunya, contributing to dog-assisted therapy programmes and the organisation of sporting events for children with disabilities.

In 2019, his organisation joined forces with the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Foundation to help in the work towards improving leukaemia treatment.