Lionel Messi, the world's best footballer, has been announced as the first Global Ambassador for Dubai's World Expo 2020 event.
Messi, who on Monday won the Ballon D'Or for a record fifth time, has over 80 million followers on social media, and is one of the most influential players in modern football.
"Expos are all about focusing attention on issues of global interest and global concern to help imagine a better future," said Reem Ibrahim Al Hashimi, director general of Expo 2020. "What better way to do this than by recruiting allies among people who are already working towards better future outcomes?"
She added: "Lionel Messi's performances on the football pitch bring people together, and as a result his influence reaches far beyond it. He is the ideal person to be our first global ambassador.
"He overcame youthful health challenges to achieve his dreams of international excellence through hard work; making him an inspiration. He is perfectly placed to reach out to young people around the world, bringing them together to join us as we work towards hosting our World Expo in 2020."
Last month, the Higher Committee of Expo 2020 Dubai announced the Expo Ambassadorship Programme, which will include a series of well-known global thought leaders and inspirers for the upcoming event.
Following the recent ratification in Paris of the UAE as the next host of the 160-year-old global event, the Higher Committee plans to spread awareness and knowledge of the themes of Expo around the world using "high-profile, highly regarded individuals".
At this stage, there are eight distinct appointment categories, one each to reflect achievements in Health, Education, Science, Sport, Design, Arts & Culture, Technology and Entrepreneurial activity. Over the five years leading up to Dubai's Expo, other areas may be added to this list.
The organisers of Expo 2020 Dubai said they will be making further ambassadorial appointments over the coming months.For all the latest sports news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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