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Henry, Keane in FIFA's top 100

February 05, 2004 12:19 IST

FIFA have kicked off their centenary celebrations by unveiling the first five from the list of the game's 100 greatest living players chosen by Pele, the undoubted number one.

The five players are Frenchman Thierry Henry, Ireland's Roy Keane, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the former Germany striker, Roberto Baggio of Italy and Mia Hamm of the United States.

The remaining players will be revealed at a gala tribute dinner in London on March 4 to which all 100 have been invited.

FIFA's deputy general secretary Jerome Champagne, launching the 100th anniversary celebrations, told a news conference: "Football reaches the heart of everyone and this universality of the game touches more than just sport. It reaches politics, culture, economics, society, every walk of life."

FIFA was founded by seven national associations in Paris on May 21, 1904 and the highlight of this centennial year will be a match between five-time world champions Brazil and 1998 world champions France, the country in which FIFA was formed. the match will take place at the Stade de France on May 20.

The photographs featuring the 100 best players will be exhibited in galleries and museums around the world this year, along with an exhibition "Pele: The Art of the King" celebrating the life of Pele, FIFA's Player of the 20th Century.

FIFA is also paying "special tribute" to the four British associations by holding a number of meetings in London at the end of February.

"We want to pay tribute to British football," said Champagne, "because it was the British who formulated the rules of the game and it was the British who exported it around the world."

The English Football Association, formed in 1863, was the first in the world and this year's meeting of the International Board, the game's ultimate law-making authority, will be in London on February 29.

Queen Elizabeth will host a reception for senior FIFA officials including president Sepp Blatter at Buckingham Palace, while other celebrations and fund-raising activities for charity and the FIFA Goal project will be staged throughout the year.

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