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27 Sep, 2019 13:51

Mystery solved? Messi row cleared up by Nicaraguan FA after accusations of rigged votes in FIFA player of the year award

Mystery solved? Messi row cleared up by Nicaraguan FA after accusations of rigged votes in FIFA player of the year award

The Nicaraguan football authorities have offered an explanation for the allegations of vote-rigging in Lionel Messi’s victory in the FIFA Best Awards this week, according to reports.

There were accusations of vote manipulation as Messi pipped Virgil van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo to the title of Best Men's Player at the annual award ceremony in Milan on Monday, after Nicaragua player Juan Barrera raised concerns about the validity of the awards as he claimed that he didn't vote for the players that were subsequently attributed to him.

Also on rt.com Messi ‘vote-rigging’ row: FIFA rejects claims of false votes for Barcelona ace

Barrera said on social media that he did not cast any votes despite the official tally suggesting that he had selected Messi, Sadio Mane and Cristiano Ronaldo for the honor.

However, late on Thursday the Nicaraguan authorities issued a clarification by confirming that Barrera did indeed not vote, but that the votes were cast by the country's recently-appointed captain Manuel Rosas.

The Nicaraguan FA admitted that they mistakenly used Barrera's signature which they had on file from a year prior, and are reported to have fired the official who made the error. Each country is afforded three votes, one each from the team's coach, its captain and a selected media member.

FIFA reacted to the confusion prior to Nicaragua's statement, saying: "We have checked the voting documents submitted by the Nicaraguan FA and all these documents are signed and confirmed with the official stamp of the Nicaraguan FA.

"Having compared with the vote sheets submitted by the FAs and the ones we have published we confirm that we have the right votes signed by the player/coach."

Also on rt.com FIFA clears up why Salah votes not counted for best player award

The Egyptian FA had also called the voting process into question after votes cast by them for their own player, Mo Salah, were not counted despite being submitted in advance of the deadline.

However, FIFA offered a somewhat bizarre explanation for this by saying that the signatures on the form were in capital letters and therefore invalid. They also said that the forms were not signed by the Egyptian FA's General Secretary, which was mandatory.

Sudan coach Zdravko Logarusic was also reported to have called into question the legitimacy of his own votes, but this has since been speculated to have been a hoax. FIFA state that Logarusic's votes match those in the official tally.