Austria captain David Alaba says it was a team decision for him to vote for Lionel Messi over his own Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema as men’s player of the year at the Best Fifa Awards.
Defender Alaba, 30, received abuse on social media for not choosing Benzema.
Argentina forward Messi won the accolade on Monday ahead of France forwards Kylian Mbappe and Benzema.
“The Austrian national team vote for this award as a team, not me alone,” said Alaba.
“Everyone in the team council is able to vote and that’s how it’s decided.”
Fifa released a list of who voted for whom at the awards. Alaba voted for Benzema second and Mbappe third, prompting the hashtag #AlabaOut to trend on social media.
Benzema and Alaba have played together at Madrid since the latter joined from Bayern Munich in 2021.
“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,” said Alaba.
The award was voted for by national team coaches and captains as well as journalists and fans across the world.
Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic decided against taking part in the vote, saying his side deserve more “respect” from Fifa.
Captain Luka Modric came fourth in the vote but was the only player from Croatia on the list of 14 candidates, despite their reaching the World Cup semi-finals last year.
“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,” said Dalic.
“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.”
Dalic suggested Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic and RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol should have been on the list.
“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,” he said.
|Captain||Argentina||Lionel Messi||Neymar||Kylian Mbappe||Karim Benzema|
|Captain||Croatia||Luke Modric||Karim Benzema||Lionel Messi||Kylian Mbappe|
|Captain||Brazil||Thiago Silva||Neymar||Lionel Messi||Karim Benzema|
|Captain||Egypt||Mohamed Salah||Vinicius Jr||Kevin de Bruyne||Achraf Hakimi|
|Captain||England||Harry Kane||Lionel Messi||Sadio Mane||Karim Benzema|
|Captain||France||Hugo Lloris||Kylian Mbappe||Karim Benzema||Lionel Messi|
|Captain||Germany||Manuel Neuer||Lionel Messi||Kylian Mbappe||Robert Lewandowski|
|Captain||Northern Ireland||Steven Davis||Lionel Messi||Kylian Mbappe||Karim Benzema|
|Captain||Portugal||Pepe||Kylian Mbappe||Luka Modric||Karim Benzema|
|Captain||Republic of Ireland||Seamus Coleman||Lionel Messi||Kylian Mbappe||Karim Benzema|
|Captain||Spain||Sergio Busquets||Lionel Messi||Robert Lewandowski||Karim Benzema|
|Coach||Argentina||Lionel Scaloni||Lionel Messi||Julian Alvarez||Luka Modric|
|Coach||Austria||Ralf Rangnick||Lionel Messi||Kylian Mbappe||Jude Bellingham|
|Coach||England||Gareth Southgate||Lionel Messi||Luka Modric||Kylian Mbappe|
|Coach||France||Didier Deschamps||Kylian Mbappe||Karim Benzema||Lionel Messi|
|Coach||Northern Ireland||Michael O’Neill||Lionel Messi||Kylian Mbappe||Karim Benzema|
|Coach||Republic of Ireland||Stephen Kenny||Kylian Mbappe||Lionel Messi||Erling Haaland|
|Coach||Wales||Rob Page||Lionel Messi||Kylian Mbappe||Jude Bellingham|
|Full list of votes|