It’s getting messy. FIFA defend integrity of Best Awards voting

September 30 – FIFA has been forced on to the offensive to protect its integrity following adverse reaction to the voting process at last week’s Best Awards ceremony in Milan when Lionel Messi surprisingly won the prize for the sixth time.

Media coverage questioning the process was fuelled by the likes of the Egyptian FA, Sudan’s coach and Nicaragua’s captain all complaining about the vote being manipulated.

The captain and coach of every national  federation affiliated to FIFA get to vote, along with one media representative from each country. Somehow Messi won despite Barcelona being humiliated by Liverpool in the Champions League  semi-final, with Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk finishing second.

FIFA responded to Egypt’s suggestions that their votes for Liverpool’s Egyptian  forward Mohamed Salah had not been counted by disclosing that Egypt’s ballot was “in capital letters and thus seemed not valid”.

But now, given other complaints, the world governing body has released a further statement dismissing any notion of foul play and explaining precisely how the voting process was totally above board.

“FIFA has been disappointed to see a number of reports in the media questioning the integrity of the voting process for the awards,” it said

“These reports are unfair and misleading. The voting procedure for each of the awards is supervised and monitored by an independent observer, in this case PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Switzerland. The written documents must also be signed by the responsible persons of the association as well as by the persons authorised to vote.”

“Therefore in order for a vote to be valid it must include the respective signatures and the member association’s stamp.

“Both FIFA and the independent observer can demonstrate that all the votes submitted in accordance with the rules and within the deadlines were taken into account. Consequently, there is no doubt whatsoever as to the authenticity of the result.

“Should there have been any case of wrongdoing, and even if this did not affect the result of the vote, FIFA will investigate and apply sanctions where necessary.'”

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