FIFA insists the voting process for The Best awards was entirely above board after claims it was fixed in favour of Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

The Argentinian won the vote at the ceremony in Milan on Monday night ahead of Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk.

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Delegates and players connected to various federations claimed their votes were either not counted or had been changed.

A statement from football’s world governing body released on Friday afternoon read: “FIFA has been disappointed to see a number of reports in the media questioning the integrity of the voting process for the awards.

“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 statement added that member associations had been asked to submit forms both electronically and as hard copies.

“The written documents must also be signed by the responsible persons of the association as well as by the persons authorised to vote,” the statement continued.

Barcelona and Argentina forward Messi was named FIFA best men's player for a sixth time Barcelona and Argentina forward Messi was named FIFA best men's player for a sixth time Barcelona and Argentina forward Messi was named FIFA best men’s player for a sixth time

“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.”

Messi’s victory was his first success in the FIFA Best Men’s Player Award since it broke away from the Ballon d’Or and launched in 2016, with Cristiano Ronaldo winning two and Luka Modric one before him.