Real Madrid defender David Alaba explained why he did not vote for teammate Karim Benzema ahead of Lionel Messi in the 2022 Best FIFA Men's Player award after receiving abuse on social media, including racist tweets.
Awards are voted for by national team captains and coaches, journalists from across the globe and fans on FIFA's official website.
Alaba, the Austria captain, received abuse on social media from Madrid fans after he gave five points to Messi, three to Benzema and one to Kylian Mbappe. A hashtag #AlabaOut trended on social media while some fans labelled him "Judas."
On Tuesday, Alaba tweeted: "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."
Austria coach Ralf Rangnick did not vote for Benzema but instead had Messi, Mbappe and Jude Bellingham as his top three choices.
Benzema won the 2022 Ballon d'Or award in October after a sensational 2021-22 campaign with Madrid in which he scored a career-best 27 goals in LaLiga and was top scorer in the Champions League with 15.
Sources told ESPN that Benzema is not bothered by the votes for the award, but Alaba clarified the situation and expressed his admiration for his teammate.
Alaba tweeted: "And I have often said that for me he is the best striker in the world, and that is still the case. Without doubt."
Julien Laurens and Rodrigo Faez contributed to this report