Enrique to miss Ballon d'Or awards ceremony

FC Barcelona's head coach Luis Enrique attends a press conference at Barcelona, Spain on Jan 5, 2016.
FC Barcelona's head coach Luis Enrique attends a press conference at Barcelona, Spain on Jan 5, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

BARCELONA • Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, like his Bayern Munich counterpart Pep Guardiola, will be noticeable by his absence at today's Ballon d'Or awards ceremony.

Enrique announced on Saturday that he would skip Fifa's annual ceremony in Zurich, despite his star player Lionel Messi being the hot favourite to be crowned Player of the Year again.

"I won't be going," the Barca boss announced after Messi's hat-trick inspired a 4-0 drubbing of Granada in La Liga.

Enrique, who guided the Catalan giants to five titles in 2015, is on the shortlist for coach of the year along with Guardiola, who is in Qatar at Bayern's winter training camp.

The third name in contention for manager of the year is Jorge Sampaoli, the Argentinian who masterminded Chile's march to the Copa America title.

  • The nominees

  • Fifa Ballon d'Or

    Cristiano Ronaldo (Por)

    Lionel Messi (Arg)

    Neymar (Bra).

    Women's Player of the Year

    Carli Lloyd (USA)

    Aya Miyama (Jpn)

    Celia Sasic (Ger)

    Men's Coach of the Year

    Pep Guardiola (Esp)

    Luis Enrique (Esp)

    Jorge Sampaoli (Arg)

    Women's Coach of the Year

    Jill Ellis (USA)

    Mark Sampson (Wal)

    Norio Sasaki (Jpn)

    Puskas Award (best goal)

    Alessandro Florenzi (Ita)

    Wendell Lira (Bra)

    Messi

This is not the first awards ceremony Enrique has failed to attend; he declined an invitation to the Spanish league's end-of-year honours bash in November where he was named coach of the season.

Despite his no-show in Zurich, he used his post-match press conference on Saturday to push the case for Messi to pick up his fifth Player of the Year honour.

He added: "It is evident there is the collective objective that attracts him, motivates him and continues to motivate him year after year.

"Also the particular individual objective, these type of players have to continue beating records and continue being the best.

"I have no doubt that it will last as long as Leo Messi wants it too."

Barca will nevertheless be represented at the function by club president Josep Maria Bartomeu along with Messi and Neymar, who are competing with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo for the top player title.

Fifa on Friday had described Guardiola's absence as "a great shame".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2016, with the headline 'Enrique to miss Ballon d'Or awards ceremony'. Print Edition | Subscribe