COPA America wins Messi Facebook fans

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The 2011 South American international football tournament COPA America begins on July 1 and runs until July 24. In the seven days before the tournament, fans of the Argentinian footballer Leo Messi have been flocking to Facebook to 'like' the star.

Leo, or Lionel, Messi currently plays for Spanish club Barcelona and is widely considered the best footballer of his generation and amongst the best of all time.

The football star is due to play for his country in the COPA America, an annual international football tournament between members of the South America Football Association and two other invited nations.

Data from social media monitoring site shows that over the seven days prior to July 1, Messi gained a total of 1,026,532 new Facebook fans.

This increase in Messi's popularity can most likely be attributed to the star's Facebook posts regarding the COPA America and the huge expectations surrounding his performance in this year's event.

An example of the footballer's popularity on the social networking site can be seen in response to his last comment on the COPA America, which, posted June 30, attracted over 65,000 'likes' and 16,000 comments in less than 24 hours.

Currently Messi's total number of Facebook fans stands at 18,824,343, making him the second most popular sportsman on Facebook, behind Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, who currently has a total of 30,096,384 fans.

The opening game of the COPA America 2011 will be played between Argentina and Bolivia on July 1 (00:45 July 2 GMT); watch highlights of the event via the official COPA America YouTube channel.

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Cristiano Ronaldo Facebook page -
COPA America-
COPA America YouTube-