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Jul 11, 2013

Marco Di Vaio gets All-Star vote

Marco Di Vaio of the Montreal Impact was voted Thursday into the Major League Soccer All-Star Game via "FIFA 13" vote.

The election marked the first time in professional sports league All-Star voting that a player was added to the All-Star roster via video game vote.

The stunt was the result of an MLS partnership with EA Sports this year to give fans the ability to crown one forward an All-Star based on how many goals he scored in EA Sports "FIFA Soccer 13" games played by fans on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or PC.

Both EA Sports and MLS saw the partnership as a new way to give fans a voice.

"I think it really pulls on the heartstrings and the passion points of the fans and their favorite players to be able to actually act through the FIFA game and have those actions impact the selection of that 11th player," said David Wright, senior vice president of global sponsorship for MLS. "To ultimately see that play out on July 31st against AS Roma is kind of the final culmination."

David Pekush, senior global marketing manager for EA Sports "FIFA," says the promotion recognizes the way fans connect with players in today's world.

"We've got a whole generation of people who experience the sport when it's not in season through a video game," Pekush said. "When I was a kid, I would express it by putting a poster of Michael Jordan up in my bedroom. Now I can turn on my Xbox 360 and play as Landon Donovan."

The promotion ran from July 3-10, recording each goal scored by one of the 26 eligible forwards as a vote for that player. Fans racked up a total of 488,611 goals that counted as votes, with Di Vaio scoring 73,838 goals for the win. The Galaxy's Robbie Keane came in second with 69,797 goals.

"I am honored to be the first player voted into the All-Star Fan XI by the millions of 'FIFA Soccer 13' players around the world," Di Vaio said in a statement. "I want to thank all my fans who spent so many hours playing 'FIFA Soccer 13' to help secure me a spot on the Fan XI."

The Fan XI includes 10 other players who were chosen through online voting, text message and Twitter. The Fan XI are not necessarily included on the game-day roster; they join 21 other players who are named All-Stars and can be selected to be part of the 18-man match-day squad by coach Peter Vermes.

MLS commissioner Don Garber selects two of the players named All-Stars, and his selections will be announced on July 15. Vermes will also announce the match-day squad on the same day. The MLS squad will face Italian side Roma in Kansas City on July 31.

Kristi Dosh covers sports business for ESPN. She is an attorney, founder of BusinessOfCollegeSports.com, and joined ESPN in October 2011. She is also the author of a book on the business of college football in the U.S., "Saturday Millionaires: How Winning Football Builds Winning Colleges," due out September 10, 2013.

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