The Italian national team coach Antonio Conte and the Azzurri's goalkeeper captain Gianluigi Buffon did not cast their votes for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award in an apparent protest against the exclusion of the star keeper from the list of candidates.
A spokesperson from the Italian football federation (FIGC) said that the refusal to vote was meant to be a signal to the world football governing body.
Buffon, a 37-year-old who won the last four Italian titles with Juventus and lost last year's Champions League final against Barcelona, was not on the long list of 59 candidates published by FIFA, which included five other goalkeepers. Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer then made it to the 23-man shortlist issued in December.
Barcelona's Argentine star Lionel Messi won the Ballon d'Or for the fifth time at a gala in Zurich on Monday.