Messi and Pogba launch UEFA initiative
Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba have teamed up to launch a new UEFA initiative, promoting inclusion, diversity and accessibility in football throughout Europe.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are also on board with the #EqualGame campaign, which aims to show that "everyone has the right to enjoy football, no matter who you are, where you're from or how you play".
Barcelona star Messi said his belief in the power of sport is why he has thrown his weight behind the scheme.
"During the course of my career, our beloved sport has taught me many things, but above all it's shown me that football really is a universal game that is accessible to all, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation and religious beliefs," said Messi.
"The fact that football acts as a leveller in our society is a source of great pride to all of us involved in the game. Whilst everyone is different we're all united by a common passion for a sport that truly belongs to each and every one of us.
"I'm fully behind UEFA's #EqualGame campaign because I believe in the immense power of the sport and its ability to change our outlook on the world."
France and Manchester United midfielder Pogba, who has scored two goals in two Premier League games this season, also highlighted the importance of equality in football.
"Football is my passion and there are many reasons why I love the game," said Pogba. "People all over the world are different, but we all can find common ground in our love of football.
"This means football belongs to everyone, and we all should have the chance to play and enjoy it. That's why I'm supporting UEFA's #EqualGame campaign – it's a chance to show that no matter who you are, and wherever you're from, there's a way to get involved and enjoy football.
"If we can improve the diversity and access to football, the game will grow and be better for everyone. I think football can help bring communities together and show, on and off the pitch, we are all equal."