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The Best Awards: Three countries accuse FIFA of vote-rigging in favour of Messi

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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.

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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.

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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.

READ ALSO: FIFA Awards: Salah fumes at Egyptian FA over invalid votes

Lugarisic said he picked Liverpool striker Mo Salah as first choice but a photo of his voting paper showed he had apparently picked Messi.

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Barrera is also adamant that he did not vote for Messi, as claimed by FIFA.

He said:

“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.”

 

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Tottenham set to sign £15m Hojbjerg

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Tottenham look set to make their first big signing of the summer transfer window.

The Telegraph reports that Southampton midfielder – and former captain – Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is on the verge of joining Spurs in a deal worth £15m.

Apparently Tottenham full-back Kyle Walker-Peters – who joined the Saints on loan in January – will head in the opposite direction on a permanent basis.

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That separate arrangement is reported to be worth £12m.

Meanwhile, three European clubs have all reportedly had sizeable bids accepted for Southampton midfielder and Spurs transfer target Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

According to a report from the Daily Echo, the trio have all made offers in the region of the £25m price that Saints have put on the Denmark international’s head.

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Hojbjerg has made it clear that he prefers a move to Spurs and Saints are still locked in talks with them over a potential deal that could involve Kyle Walker-Peters going the other way.

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Pedro undergoes surgery for shoulder injury

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Chelsea’s Spanish winger Pedro has had surgery, following a shoulder injury he sustained during Saturday’s FA Cup final defeat by Arsenal.

Pedro had replaced forward Christian Pulisic in the game which Chelsea lost 2-1, after the American, who scored in the first half, pulled up with a hamstring problem.

“The surgery went well, I will be back soon. It was a pity not to win the FA Cup. Thank you all for your support,” the 33-year-old Pedro said on Instagram on Tuesday.

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Pedro, whose Chelsea deal expires at the end of the month, has reportedly agreed a move to Italian Serie A side AS Roma on a free transfer.

Reuters

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Iker Casillas retires

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Spain’s World Cup-winning captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas announced his retirement from the professional game at the age of 39 on Tuesday.

The former Real Madrid skipper had called time on his five-year spell with side Porto in July after his contract with the Portuguese club expired.

Casillas had suffered a heart attack during a training session last year and has not played any competitive football since April 2019.

“The important thing is the path you travel and the people who accompany you, not where it takes you, because that comes with work and effort alone, and I think I can say, without hesitation, that the path I have taken is the one I dreamt about #Thanks,” Casillas said on Twitter.

Casillas was given a role on Porto’s technical staff at the start of last season and was included in the first-team squad, although he was never named in a matchday squad.

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Reuters

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