FIFA appear to have landed themselves in hot water in the wake of their 'The Best' awards ceremony on Monday, as representatives from Sudan and Nicaragua have claimed that they did not vote for Lionel Messi to win men's best player - despite the published ballots showing they did.
Messi pipped Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk to the award after netting 51 goals in 50 appearances last season, and although there was some surprise that the Dutchman failed to collect the trophy after marshalling the Reds to Champions League glory. However, the comprehensive system of voting meant few could make a case against Messi deserving the win.
Voting for the men's best player award comprised of three representatives from each FIFA recognised country - the captain and manager of the national team as well as a journalist from that nation - each submitting a first, second and third choice, with points attributed accordingly.
In an effort to keep things transparent, the governing body even published a detailed breakdown of the voting for all to see. But that's where things get complicated.
Sudan manager Zdravko Lugarisic and Nicaragua captain Juan Barrera are both listed on the official document as having selected Lionel Messi as their first choice, but according to the Express, both men have disputed this.
Barrera 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.”
The former, meanwhile, posted a screenshot showing that he instead voted for Mohamed Salah - who is not listed at all on his ballot, with Messi, Van Dijk and Sadio Mane named as his three selections.
Sudan national team head coach Zdravko Lugarisic has exclusively accused FIFA board for tempering with his vote at the recent FIFA awards ceremony which was held in Milan on Monday.@CAF_Media @CAF_Online @FIFAcom @online_zifa @MoSalah #FIFAFootballAwards @Chakariboy pic.twitter.com/8nPs7cNecX— Reason Machipisa (@MachipisaReason) September 26, 2019
The Egyptian FA, meanwhile - who attempted to vote for Salah - saw their votes rejected after it fell foul of FIFA's regulations. They reportedly submitted it in capital letters and failed to amend in time.
Of course, while it's easy to get worked up about potential vote-fixing, it's possible that any errors have stemmed from admin mistakes in what is a complex voting process.
FIFA says it is enquiring as to what went wrong with Sudan and Nicaragua's votes, so we'll likely get an answer as to what actually happened in due course.