International

REVEALED: Why Messi and Barcelona Players boycotted FIFA Awards

​Barcelona midfielder and club legend Andres Iniesta phoned his El Clasico rivals Real Madrid to explain why he and his teammates missed Monday night’s FIFA Awards.

The awards in Zurich saw Cristiano Ronaldo win the trophy in its debut year, capping off an incredible 2016 for the Portuguese international.


However it is believed that Ronaldo and his Real Madrid teammates were angered by the absence of the Barcelona playing staff, with only the Catalan side’s directors in attendance.

​According to reports in Marca, Andres Iniesta explained in a phone call to Madrid players that a difference of opinions within the Barcelona hierarchy was the reason the reigning Spanish champions did not make the journey to Switzerland. 

It is also believed that Wednesday night’s Copa del Rey match against Athletic Bilbao is a major factor in why the players decided to stay at home.

 

Barcelona currently trail Bilbao 2-1 from the first leg, with the return fixture in the Nou Camp taking place on Wednesday – just two days after FIFA’s award ceremony.

The El Clasico rivals dominated proceedings in Zurich with nine of the 11 from the FIFPro 2016 World XI coming from the Spanish giants (five from Madrid and four from Barcelona.

The only non-Spanish based players to make the team were Manuel Neuer and Dani Alves. And speaking after the ceremony Alves was critical of his former teammate’s decision not to attend the event.

“They’ve left me alone here with Real Madrid [players],” said the Juventus full back. “They should have come.”

Real Madrid currently find themselves five points clear of their old rivals in Spain and could extend it to eight if they win their game in hand.

In fact Barcelona aren’t even Madrid’s closest rivals as they find themselves second behind Sevilla in La Liga.

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