World football governing body, FIFA, is at the centre of a vote-rigging allegation after it was claimed nominations for its The Best awards were rigged in favour of Barcelona star Lionel Messi who pipped Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Footballer of the Year award earlier this week.
Messi’s award has, however, been rocked with allegations of manipulations with some countries claiming their votes were not counted or misallocated.
The Egyptian FA, Sudan’s coach and Nicaragua’s captain have all questioned the legitimacy of the votes.
Each country gets three votes – from the national coach, the captain and a media rep.
A series of claims have raised alarm bells over uncounted or misallocated votes.
Egypt have contacted FIFA to ask for an explanation why the votes of its national coach Shawkie Ghareeb and captain Ahmed El-Mohammadi for Salah were apparently not included.
But world football’s governing body in a statement explaining the reason for the omission today.
They also claimed that “voting forms were also not signed by the (federation) general secretary which is mandatory”.
FIFA added that its voting office is monitored by independent auditors.
They also noted that Egypt was first contacted for confirmation of the ballots then “received two reminders to submit the properly signed voting forms on Aug. 19”.
Sudan’s coach Zdravko Lugarisic and Nicaragua’s Juan Barrera said their votes had been doctored.
Lugarisic said he picked Liverpool striker Mo Salah as first choice but a photo of his voting paper showed he had apparently picked Messi.
Barrera is also adamant that he did not vote for Messi, as claimed by FIFA.
“I did not vote for Messi. I was surprised to be on the list of captains who voted for Messi and there is no explanation how it appeared there.”