By Sudarshana Banerjee

Electronic Arts (EA) has signed soccer player Lionel Messi to a multi-year endorsement contract that will see him become the global face of the EA SPORTS FIFA Soccer franchise. The deal sees the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2010 winner transfer to EA SPORTS and make his debut in March, 2012 on the cover of FIFA Street.

Matt Bilbey (Vice president and GM,Soccer, EA SPORTS): Our FIFA franchise is the number one selling sports videogame franchise in the world, and Lionel Messi is the number one player in the world, so this agreement is a true partnership of superstars.

The partnership will see Messi become an EA SPORTS Ambassador. EA SPORTS will also team up with the ‘Leo Messi Foundation’ to support social, educational and health care related initiatives for children around the world.

The EA SPORTS FIFA Soccer series, now in its 19th year, sold 3.2 million copies of FIFA Soccer 12 in the first five days after launching to become the biggest launch in the history of sports videogames.

Playing for FC Barcelona, Messi received the prestigious FIFA Ballon d’Or 2010 award as the top soccer player in the world, was UEFA Champions League Top Goal Scorer the past three years, is the three-time La Liga Player of the Year, and has made the shortlist for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or. At just 24, Messi has scored over 200 goals in all competitions and currently sits second in the rankings of Barcelona’s all-time leading goal scorers. He has scored 27 goals and 14 assists in 29 games this season in all competitions.