Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has won the ‘Champions of the Peace of the Year’ award for his fair play and commitment to social causes.

The award given by “Peace and Sport,” the Monaco-based international organisation, recognises an athlete that has led a significant and sustainable sport initiative towards peaceful change.

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With the Leo Messi foundation, the Argentina star has helped promote education and social inclusion for disadvantaged children from around the world.

“This award rewards not only his fair play, respect and tolerance on the football pitch but also his commitment to children’s rights,” Peace and Sport president and founder Joel Bouzou said. “These are values that make him a role model and can pave the way for a fairer and more inclusive society.”

Peace and Sport vice-president Didier Drogba added: “Lionel Messi always demonstrates to be a great role model for fair play, setting the example for the younger generation of players and for millions of children and fans all around the world.”

Messi, 33, posed with the award and said: “It is an honour to receive the ‘Champion for Peace of the Year’ award. Respect towards the others is something I learned when I was a kid, and I always try to apply this important value on the football pitch.

“It is a pleasure to be recognised for being a fair player. I thank Peace and Sport and H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco for this award and I look forward to continuing inspiring and supporting disadvantaged people.”

Earlier this year, Messi donated €1 million towards the fight against COVID-19 in Spain and Argentina. Among the projects Messi’s foundation has been involved in is the funding of a new children’s cancer centre in Barcelona’s Sant Joan de Deu hospital.

A UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Messi is active in social media advocating charitable causes. The “Peace of the Year’ award was previously won by South Africa rugby captain Siya Kolis and French midfielder Blaise Matuidi.