Some believe Cristiano Ronaldo was aiming a sly dig at Barcelona’s players after he said it was “understandable” for them to miss FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony on Monday.
The Real Madrid star was named Player of the Year at the inaugural event, beating Lionel Messi to the main prize after collecting 35.54 per cent of the votes.
Not a single Barcelona player attended the event in Zurich. Barcelona claimed their players were too busy preparing for Wednesday’s Copa del Rey clash against Athletic Bilbao to travel to Switzerland for the bash, which may or may not be true.
And though Ronaldo said he was sorry that Messi and co. couldn’t be in attendance, his quotes have been interpreted as a subtle shot at the Catalan outfit.
“Thank you everyone, I don't really have anything else to add,” Ronaldo said after scooping the gong. “The awards I think speak for themselves.
“I’m just very happy. I'm sorry some people from Barcelona aren't here, but that's understandable.”
Maradona didn't hide his feelings
You can make your own mind up. On the other hand, Diego Maradona’s comments are much easier to interpret.
"I'm disappointed with Messi, from watching television at home you cannot fight anything or anyone – here you can fight," he told TVE, per Goal.
"I do not know why Barcelona did not come to such an important event. They have priorities and the priority was for Leo not to come. I think coming here [Zurich] they could fight more than they would in Barcelona."
The real reason Messi didn't attend
Barcelona said in a statement that Messi, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez, who were all included in the FIFPro World11, were “prioritising the preparation for the game on Wednesday against Athletic Club.”
However, the Daily Mail have a different take on the situation.
They claim that Messi skipped the event simply because he had no interest in playing second fiddle to Ronaldo.
It was rather obvious that the Real Madrid man would win the main prize and so his Argentinian rival had no interest in being a part of it.
One imagines he had enough of everybody celebrating Ronaldo’s terrific 2016 at last month’s Ballon d’Or ceremony.
Shouldn't be an ongoing thing
However, as distressing as it would have been for him, it’s quite a shame Messi wasn’t there. Football will have a problem if his rivalry with Ronaldo escalates to the point that they can no longer admire the other’s achievements.