Play Soccer in Facebook Messenger

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In celebration of the Euro 2016 and Copa America Centenario 2016 soccer championships, Facebook has hidden a game of its own inside the Messenger app.

The sporty Easter egg lets players bounce a virtual soccer ball on the screen; your goal is to score as many points as possible without letting the ball drop.

To play, make sure you're running the latest version of Facebook Messenger, then open a chat and send the soccer emoji. Anyone in the chat thread can press the icon to launch a new game.

Tap the ball at the bottom of the screen to start, then keep punching at your phone to send the orb flying. Each perfect shot is rewarded with a positive emoji—thumbs up, flexing muscle, clapping hands—while missed opportunities generate an embarrassing result—crying, angry, and ashamed faces.

If there is a strategy, I have yet to figure it out; my high score hasn't even reached double digits. But beware: the mini-game tracks each player's progress within the chat thread—making it easy to gloat (or, in my case, hang your head in shame).

Facebook previously snuck chess and basketball Easter eggs into the app. At one point, typing "@fbchess" into a conversation opened a virtual chess board, playable by two chatters.

Don't bother trying to challenge friends to a game, though: The program is no longer available in Messenger. Once you get tired of bouncing a soccer ball, though, users can still tap into the March Madness-inspired basketball competition—also accessible via an emoji.

Users flick a finger on the screen to get the ball into the hoop. Miss and you'll get a random "way to go" emoji; sink the shot and you're rewarded with a more encouraging icon. The more baskets you make, the harder the game gets; the animated rim begins moving around the screen faster and faster.

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GAMES
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