The "Panama Papers" are something you have probably heard of, and it's something Lionel Messi and other figures in the world of soccer are alleged to be involved with. But what exactly are they and how does it impact Messi? Here's everything you need to know.

1. What are the "Panama Papers" exactly?

The "Panama Papers" are huge leak of documents that allegedly show how certain wealthy and powerful people use tax havens to hide their wealth. Various big-time sports figures and more are named, such as Messi.

According to the Associated Press, 11 million files of documents were leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in creating offshore accounts that can be used to avoid tax. 

According to The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the 11.5 million files include 140 politicians from more than 50 countries and are connected to offshore companies in 21 tax havens. They include the Presidents of Argentina, Ukraine and UAE, the King of Saudia Arabia, Iceland's prime minister and various others in politics. The list also includes associates of Vladimir Putin, famous actor Jackie Chan and others. 

2. How does it work?

Tax havens basically hide the identity of the owners of money. 

From BBC

Although there are legitimate ways of using tax havens, most of what has been going on is about hiding the true owners of money, the origin of the money and avoiding paying tax on the money.

Some of the main allegations centre on the creation of shell companies, that have the outward appearance of being legitimate businesses, but are just empty shells. They do nothing but manage money, while hiding who owns it.

Notable reporting partners in the United States include: the Charlotte Observer, the Miami Herald, Columbia University, Univision and Fusion. For the complete list of reporting partners, click here. For a complete guide on the power players involved, click here.

3. Who else is alleged to be involved when it comes to world soccer?

Spanish tax authorities are investigating Messi, five-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner, after he was named in the report. From ESPN:

Spain's El Confidencial digital publication reported as part of the release of leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm that the Messi family is being accused of setting up a tax fraud network by using Panamanian company Mega Star Enterprises to avoid paying tax on image rights deals.

The accusations come one day after an international coalition of media outletspublished details of an investigation into the offshore financial dealings of the world's wealthy elite, based on a massive cache of documents provided by an anonymous.

Messi and his family are considering suing the Spanish publication for defamation after the Barcelona star was linked to tax evasion projects. On Monday, his club Barcelona voiced their support.

According to Suddeutsche Zeitung, tha largest German national daily newspaper which broke the story, there is no role that Messi may have played in all of this.

The Panama Papers do not clearly reveal the role that the megastar himself played in the Messis’ network of companies. On one document, “investments” are stated as the general purpose of business. The leaked data did not reveal any specific contracts or business transactions concluded through Mega Star Enterprises (the shell company that Messi is alleged to hold a 50 percent share in). This may be because other people were granted power of attorney for the company. At any event, in a letter dated June 23, 2013, the father and son assured Mossfon (Mossack Fonseca law firm) that they would help withdraw all potential powers of attorney if the business relationship with the [Panamania] law firm were to end. With such powers of attorney, third parties could potentially open accounts, purchase real estate or conclude any type of contract without any reference to the company owner – all of this thanks to the anonymous bearer shares. If Spanish public prosecutors are not yet familiar with Mega Star Enterprises, they may be interested in finding out who was granted power of attorney, and for what reason.

Messi's family (specifically his father, Jorge Messi) released a statement denying any wrongdoing. Here's a transcription of that statement, via Marca.

"Lionel Messi has not participated in any of the acts in which he is being implicated. The accusations saying that we have set up a new form of tax evasion and that we have created a network to launder money are false and libelous."

As of Monday, Here are some of the public soccer figures that have been named in the leaks:

  • Juan Pedro Damiani (Uruguay), FIFA's ethics lawyer, member of FIFA ethics committee and president of Uruguayan club Peñarol.
  • Michel Platini (France), former UEFA president. Currently suspended by FIFA. 
  • Argentina president Mauricio Macri, former president of Boca Juniors. 
  • Eugenio Figueredo (Uruguay), FIFA vice president (2014-15).

It's important to understand that these are simply allegations at this point, not official proof that any of the aforementioned individuals did anything wrong. It's also worth noting that we are still in the early discovery stages of the leaks, as journalists all over the globe comb through 11 million files to discover more allegations.

For more on the "Panama Papers" leak visit CBS News.

Messi is in an interesting situation away from the pitch. (Getty Images)