|Lionel Messi at the launching|
Messi cast the first vote on Thursday, thousands of other players will be filling in the voting papers soon.
Every year, FIFPro asks the reigning world footballer of the year to be the first player to cast a vote for the FIFA FIFPro World XI. Messi eagerly took the opportunity of filling in the form. His Barcelona team mates followed suit.
'Of course I consider it an honour to be the first to cast a vote, particularly because it is a very special election,' explained Messi. 'This is the only global award that is one hundred percent based on the votes of the players. Your colleagues know why a footballer is good. That is what makes being elected for the FIFA FIFPro World XI such a significant prize.'
Messi knows what he's talking about. In 2008, the then 21-year-old Messi received the World XI trophy for the first time. Since then, he has been in every successive FIFA FIFPro World XI. The Argentinian, now 26 years old, is the record holder with six selections - just as many of Cristiano Ronaldo.
This is the ninth year in succession that FIFPro organises the World XI election. The world players union sent out almost 50,000 voting papers to 68 countries in Africa, America, Asia and Europe. The players will be able to fill in their form until 1 November.
FIFPro has been running its World XI since 2005. In 2009, the organisation joined forces with FIFA to present the 'FIFA/FIFPro World XI' at the FIFA World Player Gala, now known as the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala.