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Lionel Messi gave the official start sign for election of the FIFA FIFPro World XI of 2013. In the coming months, FIFPro will be giving every professional football player in the world the opportunity to select his favourite eleven players. 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.


‘The truth is, it's a joy to be able to be here again, and to be the first again’, said Messi. ‘It makes me very proud that the voters are our own fellow professional football players, particularly because it is a very special election. 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.


In 2013, Messi led Barcelona to a new national title and to the Spanish Supercup. In the semi-finals of the Champions League, he had to watch injured from the side line as Barça failed to beat Bayern München, who went on to win the title.


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. The eleven players (1 keeper, 4 defenders, 3 midfielders and 3 strikers) with the highest number of votes will be honoured on Monday 13 January 2014 during the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala in Zurich, Switzerland.


The FIFA FIFPro World XI of 2012 was: Iker Casillas; Dani Alves, Gérard Piqué, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Andrés Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernández ; Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Radamel Falcao.