(Reuters) – The Nicaraguan Football Federation (Fenifut) has apologised for questioning the authenticity of the FIFA Best awards and admitted they made a mistake when sending their votes to the world governing body for this year’s vote.
Shortly after the awards ceremony on Monday, Nicaragua captain Juan Barrera said that in spite of FIFA documents saying he voted for winner Lionel Messi, he did not take part in the poll.
But Fenifut, after backing Barrera’s claims, are now acknowledging they erroneously put Barrera’s name on the form, when the player who voted was left back Manuel Rosas.
“Fenifut would like to make it clear this was a misunderstanding,” the Central American federation said in a statement. “Fenifut would like to apologise.”
The claims – along with a mistake by the Egyptian FA which meant that votes for Mohamed Salah were not counted – cast a pall over the results announced in Milan on Monday.
Barcelona’s Argentina striker Messi picked up the FIFA player of the year award for a record sixth time, beating off competition from Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk and five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
Liverpool manager Klopp took the top coach gong for the first time, ahead of Premier League counterparts Pep Guardiola (Manchester City) and Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham Hotspur).
The captain and coach of every national soccer federation affiliated to FIFA get to vote on the player of the year, along with one media representative from each country.
In FIFA’s published list, Barrera’s top three selections in the best male player category were shown as Messi, Sadio Mane and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Fenifut said those were actually Rosas’ picks.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Ken Ferris)