FIFA is at the centre of a vote rigging storm after it was claimed votes for its The Best awards were rigged.
Barcelona star Lionel Messi pipped Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Footballer of the Year award earlier this week.
But Messi‘s victory was met with some surprise given Van Dijk’s Champions League heroics and the Ronaldo – who snubbed the awards – won Serie A with Juve.
And now the Egyptian FA, Sudan’s coach and Nicaragua’s captain have also questioned the legitimacy of the votes.
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 were apparently not included.
But world football’s governing body issued a mind-boggling statement explaining the reason for the omission today.
The statement said that signatures on Egypt’s ballots “were in capital letters and thus seemed not valid (not authentic)”.
‘I DID NOT VOTE FOR MESSI’
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.
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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National coaches, captains and journalists from each country pick their top three at the Fifa Best Awards.
The Ballon d’Or was hit with a similar rig storm last year when one journalist said his selections were tallied up incorrectly.
And in 2015 Jose Mourinho made Fifa vote rigging claims after missing out on World Coach of the Year award in 2012.