Real Madrid defender David Alaba has taken to social media to explain why he did not hand his first-place vote for The Best FIFA Men’s Player award to teammate Karim Benzema.
Benzema won the 2022 Ballon d’Or for leading Los Blancos to their record 14th Champions League crown last season, while also helping them take back La Liga from city rivals Atletico Madrid.
However, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe’s incredible World Cup campaigns saw them become the favourites to win The Best FIFA Men’s Player award handed out on Monday night instead, with the Argentine ultimately taking home the prize.
National team captains are able to cast three votes for the awards, with Austria skipper Alaba selecting Messi in first place over Benzema in second. Mbappe received his third and final vote.
Once FIFA published the voting in full, Alaba was targeted by racist abuse from Real Madrid fans for not choosing Benzema as his first-place pick.
Alaba has now taken to Twitter to explain his decision, stating: “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.”