Barcelona boss Luis Enrique says the decision not to attend The Best FIFA Football Awards gala was taken by the players.
Stars including Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta did not travel to Zurich for the event on Monday, with the club confirming that the team had stayed in Spain in order to continue preparations for Thursday’s Copa del Rey match with Athletic Bilbao.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who beat Messi to the award for best men’s player, said he would have preferred the Barca contingent to be present, while Roberto Carlos and Dani Alves also criticised their decision to miss the event.
Luis Enrique says it was ultimately down to the players to decide whether or not to go to Switzerland but insists he backs their choice completely given the important of their game with Athletic.
“In principle, the idea to go or not is individual,” he told a news conference. “As their coach, I can only back their decision. There’s a sporting situation that’s more important .
“There are certain commitments the players must take into account. I back their decision 100 per cent.”
Asked for his view on Ronaldo’s remarks shortly after he collected his trophy, Luis Enrique replied: “I’m very lucky – I haven’t seen any TV for a week.”
The players’ absence came during a difficult week for Barca, in which Pique has once again caused a storm with his criticism of officials following some controversial decisions in the games against Athletic and Villarreal.
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