September 26, 2019 / 1:27 PM / 3 months ago

Soccer-Nicaraguan captain questions authenticity of his country's votes in FIFA awards

Sept 26 (Reuters) - Nicaraguan captain Juan Barrera called into question the authenticity of his country’s votes in the FIFA awards as he said he did not submit any votes even though he is credited to have picked Lionel Messi and Juergen Klopp as his winners.

Barcelona striker Messi picked up the FIFA player of the year award for a record sixth time on Monday, 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).

In FIFA’s published list, Barrera’s top three picks in the best male player category were shown as Messi, Sadio Mane and Cristiano Ronaldo.

His votes in the manager category were for Klopp, Marcelo Gallardo and Guardiola.

However, the 30-year-old midfielder said he did not vote at all.

“I did not vote in the awards #TheBest2019 any information about my vote is false,” Barrera tweeted.

FIFA told Reuters they had checked the submissions from the Nicaraguan FA and confirmed they were signed and validated with its official stamp.

“Having compared with the vote sheets submitted by the federation and the ones we have published on FIFA.com … we confirm that we have the right votes signed by the player,” FIFA said in a statement.

“We are asking the Nicaraguan Football Federation to inquire on this matter.”

Neither Barrera nor the Nicaraguan federation could immediately be reached for comment.

The controversy follows the Egyptian FA’s (EFA) complaint that votes for Mohamed Salah, who finished fourth in the best player category, were not counted.

The EFA said captain Ahmed Elmohamady and then-coach Shawky Gharib both picked Salah as their first choice, but their votes were missing from the list released by FIFA.

FIFA said the forms were invalid because the signatures were in capital letters and they were not signed by the EFA general secretary, which was mandatory.

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. (Reporting by Andrew Downie, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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