By Nick Butler

Lionel Messi wil be the face of Buenos Aires 2018 ©AFP/Getty ImagesMarch 15 - Lionel Messi, the world's bester footballer, has been named as an ambassador of the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

Messi, who in 2012 became the first footballer in history to be awarded the world player of the year accolade for a fourth time, will be the "face of the Games" after an agreement was reached with the Municipal Government of Buenos Aires. 

Speaking after the announcement was made Mayor Mauricio Macri was clearly delighted as he claimed "it is an honour for us, the people of Buenos Aires, to have Messi on our team and for him to help us preach the values of sport and social development to young people."

"He is an idol the world over, an example for people to follow and the perfect professional - a wonderful role model that youngsters can look up to and take inspiration from," he added. 

The announcement forms part of a wider agreement between Buenos Aires City and the Messi Foundation, which promotes social action to help children.

In this, the entire financial contribution made by the municipal authorities to the Foundation will go towards social initiatives promoting the development of local communities and encouraging children and teenagers to play sport.

Four time world footballer of the year Messi won gold Beijing 2008 and backed Madrid's bid for the 2020 Olympics ©Getty ImagesMessi's involved should raise the profile of the Games and hope to get more youngsters in Argentina and around the world playing sport ©Getty Images

As a 21-year-old Messi won a gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as a leading member of the Argentinian team and he also played an important role last year in the contest to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In the final days of the race last September, Messi was first pictured in a Turkish Airlines advertising campaign which implicitly supported the Istanbul bid, before he was belatedly announced as an ambassador for the rival bid from Madrid, although neither was successful as Tokyo were eventually awarded the Games.

But after huge rhetoric by the International Olympic Committee in recent month to raise the profile of the Youth Olympics and to use it to mobilise greater sporting participation among young people, the appointment of Messi seems a perfect way to do this ahead of Buenos Aires 2018. 

Following the inaugural edition four years ago in Singapore, the next Youth Olympics is due to be held this summer in Nanjing, before the Games in the Argentinian capital becomes the third summer version in 2018.

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