Austria captain David Alaba says it was a "team decision" for him to vote for Lionel Messi over his own Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema as men's player of the year at the Best Fifa Awards.
Defender Alaba, 30, received abuse on social media for not choosing Benzema.
Argentina forward Messi won the accolade on Monday ahead of France forwards Kylian Mbappe and Benzema.
"The Austrian national team vote for this award as a team, not me alone," said Alaba.
"Everyone in the team council is able to vote and that's how it's decided."
Fifa released a list of who voted for whom at the awards. Alaba voted for Benzema second and Mbappe third, prompting the hashtag #AlabaOut to trend on social media.
Benzema and Alaba have played together at Madrid since the latter joined from Bayern Munich in 2021.
"Everyone knows, especially Karim, how much I admire him and his performances and I have often said that for me he is the best striker in the world, and that is still the case. Without doubt," said Alaba.
The award was voted for by national team coaches and captains as well as journalists and fans across the world.
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