Lionel Messi news: Barcelona talisman wins the Balon Educativo de Scholas award for his Copa America antics
What's the story?
Barcelona and Argentina captain Lionel Messi has been awarded the Balon Educativo de Scholas, an award presented by Pope Francis' Scholas Occurrentes foundation, following his Copa America performances.
In case you didn't know
Pope Francis' Scholas Occurrentes Foundation, which is present in 191 countries, gives the award to candidates who have kept the values of FutVal (the Scholas Foundation football proposal) like effort, solidarity, honesty, identity, resilience, respect, and teamwork, throughout the Copa America games.
The winner is voted for by young people of the Scholas World Network, which includes 500,000 institutions and educational networks in countries across the world. The voting process began on July 1 through the foundation's official social media accounts as well as in person at their headquarters and the FutVal Program clubs.
The heart of the matter
According to Sport, Messi was voted as the player most deserving of the Balon Educativo de Scholas for the manner in which he conducted himself in the Copa America. The 32-year-old obtained 34.28% of the votes, followed by Peruvians Edison Flores (15.56%) and Pedro Gallese (11.28%) as well as Brazil captain Dani Alves (10.5%).
The five-time Ballon d'Or recipient will receive a rag ball made by children from Mozambique and blessed by the Pope in recognition of this achievement.
Argentina ended their Copa America campaign on a bitter note as their hopes of winning their first major title came crashing down following a semi-final defeat to Brazil. They eventually finished at third place after defeating Chile in a playoff.
Messi was incredibly vocal about his discontentment with the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), accusing the organization and its referees of setting up the tournament for the Selecao to win.
Messi's bold criticisms of the CONMEBOL might lead to a two-year ban from international football, but it remains to be seen if the same is actually going to be meted out to him as punishment.