It has become somewhat of a tradition for Lionel Messi: in his capacity as the current holder of the FIFA Ballon d’Or, the Argentina and Barcelona star was again entrusted with officially kicking off the voting for the FIFA/FIFPro World XI, which will see footballers across the globe choose the 11 players they believe have outperformed the rest in 2013.
“The truth is that I’m happy to go first again,” said the man nicknamed La Pulga (the flea) after casting his vote on Thursday. “I’m proud that it’s my fellow players who get to vote – that’s what makes it very special. A footballer knows the reasons why another footballer is good, and that makes being included in this team a very significant award,” added Messi, before giving way to his Barça team-mates so that they could place their votes in the ballot box.
FIFA and the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPro) have been jointly running the election of the World XI for five years now. As usual, the announcement of the winners will be made at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala, which will be held on 13 January 2014 in Zurich (Switzerland).
The chosen few in 2012 had one thing in common: they all plied their trade in the Spanish Primera Division. The team featured Iker Casillas in goal, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Daniel Alves and Marcelo in defence, Xabi Alonso, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta in midfield, and a fearsome attacking triumvirate of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Radamel Falcao.
Messi, a four-time winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or, and Portuguese idol Cristiano Ronaldo both hold the record for most appearances, with each having been included six times, and it is not unreasonable to think that, given their current form, they will again be among the best 11 players in the world in the eyes of their peers. FIFPro has already sent out close to 50,000 ballot papers to 68 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.
With regard to the vote, there is good news for members of The Club on FIFA.com, who will again have the chance to take part in the FIFA/FIFPro World XI Predictor game, which was met with great enthusiasm last year. The details of the game will be made public in the coming months, as well as the coveted prize, which last year consisted of a jersey signed by one of the World X.
Note to editors: 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.