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Coronavirus: Lionel Messi and Carli Lloyd headline World Health Organization awareness campaign

Carli Lloyd (right) and Lionel Messi, shown in 2016 after being named FIFA's top female and male player, headline a new awareness campaign to stop the spread of coronavirus. (Stuart Franklin/Getty)

Lionel Messi and Carli Lloyd are among 28 current and former soccer stars leading a new awareness campaign aimed at stopping the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, global football’s governing body FIFA and the World Heath Organization announced Monday in a joint statement.

The effort is dubbed “Pass the message to kick out coronavirus” and it calls on “all people around the world to practice five key steps to stop the spread of the disease,” in accordance with WHO guidelines — namely hand-washing and coughing etiquette, not touching your face, and social distancing and isolation.

“We need teamwork to combat the coronavirus,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said. “Some of the greatest players to have played the beautiful game have put their names to the campaign.”

Messi, Barcelona’s Argentine icon, is considered by many to be the best player of all time. Lloyd is one of the all-time greats in the women’s game, having been named FIFA’s top player in 2015 and 2016 and winning two Olympic gold medals and two World Cups with the United States, including last summer’s event in France.

Other notable active players that are involved are Liverpool’s Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker, Juventus backstop Gianluigi Buffon and Colombian striker Radamel Falcao.

Retired former World Cup winners such as Iker Casillas, Youri Djorkaeff, Xavi Hernandez, Miroslav Klose, Philipp Lahm and Carles Puyol are also included in the initiative, which involves video messages from the players in 13 different languages.

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