ROME: Italy coach Antonio Conte and captain Gianluigi Buffon did not participate in the Ballon d’Or vote at the request of their federation in protest at Buffon’s absence from the list of candidates, Italian media reported on Tuesday.
The veteran Juventus goalkeeper did not make the preliminary list released in October with five goalkeepers chosen ahead of him — Manuel Neuer, Iker Casillas, Thibaut Courtois, Claudio Bravo and David Ospina.
And in the voting list released by FIFA on Monday night after Argentina and Barcelona star Lionel Messi won a record fifth award for the world’s best player, the results for the Italian coach and captain were missing, although the Italian journalist voted.
Sports dailies Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport reported that Conte and Buffon had not voted at the request of the Italian football federation.
Buffon’s absence shocked Italy where it was estimated that he deserved his place more than Porto’s former Real Madrid goalkeeper Casillas, Barcelona’s Bravo and Arsenal’s Ospina and as much as Bayern Munich’s Neuer and Chelsea’s Courtois.
At 37 years Buffon is still first choice for his country and Juventus who he helped reach the Champions League final last season.
He has had a superb start to the season and is still a stalwart in the Italian team.