Austria captain David Alaba has explained why he voted for Lionel Messi ahead of Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema at The Best FIFA awards after receiving racial abuse.
Alaba was targeted with messages and emojis sent to his social media accounts after his vote went to Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain Messi rather than his Real Madrid team-mate Benzema in the polling for the men’s player of the year award.
Messi was confirmed as the winner of the prize at a ceremony in Paris on Monday ahead of France strikers Kylian Mbappe and Benzema.
Austria captain Alaba has pointed out that he was voting on behalf of his national team, not simply in a personal capacity, and the majority preference was for Messi.
The 30-year-old tweeted: “Regarding FIFA The Best Award: The Austrian national team vote for this award as a team, not me alone.
“Everyone in the team council is able to vote and that’s how it’s decided. Everyone knows, especially Karim, how much I admire him and his performances and I have often said that for me he is the best striker in the world, and that is still the case. Without doubt.”
Meanwhile, Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has accused FIFA, the world governing body, of showing a lack of respect towards his national side.
Dalic, who guided Croatia to the semi-finals of the World Cup last year after reaching the final in 2018, felt his team and players deserved greater recognition than they received in the awards shortlists.
Dalic consequently did not vote in protest.
He said in a statement released by the Croatian Football Federation: “I am disappointed with FIFA’s attitude towards the Croatian national team because I strongly maintain that, based on everything we’ve achieved as a national team, we deserve more respect from the head governing body of world football than we have received.
“If English, Brazilian, Spanish, German, or Italian players and coaches had the kind of results that we do, they’d be on the shortlist for every possible football award.
“I want more respect for us, for our national team, for our players, and for myself, because with two medals, we more than deserve it.
“FIFA should promote the fact that a tiny country such as Croatia can play against the biggest nations in the world because that’s the most beautiful message for the whole football world.”
England duo Sarina Wiegman and Mary Earps win FIFA awards
England duo Sarina Wiegman and Mary Earps were winners at the 2022 Best FIFA Awards, claiming the women’s coach and women’s goalkeeper prizes at Monday’s ceremony in Paris.
The best women’s player award went to Spain’s Alexia Putellas, who won the accolade for a second straight year.
Emiliano Martinez‘s World Cup heroics for Argentina saw him named the best men’s goalkeeper, while Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni beat Man City’s Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti to the Best FIFA Men’s Coach award.
Premier League players Virgil van Dijk, Kevin De Bruyne, Casemiro and Erling Haaland were named in the men’s world XI alongside Messi, Mbappe and Benzema.
Despite the disappointment of not being named best women’s player, Beth Mead – the Euro 2022 player of the tournament and golden boot winner – was included in the best women’s XI. She was one of four Lionesses in the team alongside Arsenal team-mate Leah son, Lucy Bronze and Kiera Walsh.
Finally, amputee footballer Marci Oleksy won the Puskas award for his stunning scissor kick goal.
The Best FIFA Men’s Player
- Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
- Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
- Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)
Winner: Lionel Messi
The Best FIFA Women’s Player
- Beth Mead (Arsenal)
- Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave)
- Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)
Winner: Alexia Putellas
The 2022 FIFA FIFPRO Men’s World XI…
Thibaut Courtois, Achraf Hakimi, Joao Cancelo, Virgil van Dijk, Kevin De Bruyne, Luka Modric, Casemiro, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Erling Haaland.
The 2022 FIFA FIFPRO Women’s World XI…
Christiane Endler, Lucy Bronze, Leah son, Wendie Renard, Mapi Leon, Kiera Walsh, Alexia Putellas, Lena Oberdorf, Alex Morgan, Sam Kerr, Beth Mead
The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper
- Yassine Bounou (Sevilla)
- Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
- Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)
Winner: Emiliano Martinez
The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper
- Ann-Katrin Berger (Chelsea)
- Mary Earps (Manchester United)
- Christiane Endler (Lyon)
Winner: Mary Earps
The Best FIFA Men’s Coach
- Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid)
- Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)
- Lionel Scaloni (Argentina)
Winner: Lionel Scaloni
The Best FIFA Women’s Coach
- Sonia Bompastor (Lyon)
- Pia Sundhage (Brazil)
- Sarina Wiegman (England)
Winner: Sarina Wiegman
The FIFA Puskas Award
- Marcin Oleksy (vs Stal Rzeszow)
- Dimitri Payet (vs PAOK Thessaloniki)
- Richarlison (vs Serbia)
Winner: Marci Oleksy
The FIFA Fan Award
Abdullah Alsulmi – The only individual supporter to have been nominated for the Fan Award is Abdullah Alsulmi. He spent 55 days walking across the Arabian desert to watch Saudi Arabia play at the 2022 World Cup, a distance of 1,600km from his hometown, Jeddah, to Doha.
Argentinian fans – Travelled in huge numbers to Qatar and roared on their country to World Cup glory.
Japanese fans – Japan fans were seen clearing up the stands in Qatar after each of their nation’s games.
Winner: Argentinian fans