The Nicaragua football federation (Fenifut) on Thursday confirmed that it was left-back Manuel Rosas, and not team captain Juan Barrera, whose vote was sent in to FIFA in its The Best voting for its player of the year.
The federation said it mistakenly told FIFA that it was Barrera who voted, when in fact, it was Rosas. Rosas' vote was for Lionel Messi.
FIFA on Friday also issued a statement saying that the sport's governing body was "disappointed to see a number of reports in the media questioning the integrity of the voting process."
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Nicaragua captain Barrera earlier this week said he did not vote for the Barcelona forward. In FIFA The Best voting, choices were made by national team managers and captains as well as various media representatives of each country. Messi beat Virgil van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the award, which was given in Milan on Monday. On Wednesday, FIFA denied allegations of foul play with regards to the voting.
The Nicaragua federation on Thursday publicly shouldered the blame for the confusion.
"Due to an administrative error that we will assume responsibility for in order to be transparent, Fenifut erroneously submitted a vote for Messi to FIFA that was attributed to Juan Barrera," the federation said in a statement. "[Barrera] was the player who voted last year and was already registered [in FIFA voting]."
In the statement, Fenifut said that the team's coach, Henry Duarte, took charge of naming the players who would vote for the award, and that it was Duarte who chose the players and, in this case, he opted to name Manuel Rosas, who had voted in previous years as well.
Fenifut also said that both Duarte and Rosas voted for Messi, just as it appears in the FIFA voting card, which shows five points for Messi, three for Sadio Mane and one for Cristiano Ronaldo.
"Fenifut would like to clarify that the entire situation was a misunderstanding, although we take full responsibility for the administrative error and we understand how this can be upsetting to one of our national team captains," the statement read.
The federation also apologized for any way the misunderstanding could have affected the credibility of FIFA's The Best awards.
FIFA, meanwhile, in their statement on Friday called the media reports questioning the voting process "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. FIFA and PwC follow the Rules of Allocation and relevant standard control procedures," FIFA said in a news release. "As per these procedures, FIFA requested all member associations to submit their voting forms both electronically and in writing. The written documents must also be signed by the responsible persons of the association as well as by the persons authorised to vote.
"Therefore in order for a vote to be valid it must include the respective signatures and the member association's stamp," the statement said. "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 wrong-doing, and even if this did not affect the result of the vote, FIFA will investigate and apply sanctions where necessary."