Barcelona stars snub FIFA awards gala
Barcelona have confirmed that none of their players will attend the Best FIFA Awards gala in Zurich on Monday.
Lionel Messi – nominated for the Best FIFA Men's Player prize – had been expected to travel to Switzerland along with Luis Suarez, Neymar and Gerard Pique.
The club announced on Monday that the first team is to stay in Catalonia in order to prioritise preparations for the second leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 clash with Athletic Bilbao.
President Josep Maria Bartomeu, vice-president Jordi Mestre, technical secretary Robert Fernandez and a number of other board members will instead attend the event.
"With the aim of prioritising preparations for Wednesday's game against Athletic Club, FC Barcelona have decided that the players recognised in the Gala The Best FIFA Awards, which takes place on Monday in Zurich, will not be travelling to Switzerland for the ceremony," a club statement read.
"The club's delegation is led by president Josep Maria Bartomeu, sporting vice-president Jordi Mestre, director Silvio Elias, CEO Oscar Grau, Albert Soler (director of professional sports), Robert Fernandez (first team technical secretary) and Raul Sanllehi (director of football).
"FC Barcelona thank FIFA, its president Gianni Infantino and the executive structure for the organisation's help in being able to take part in today's Gala. The club expresses their recognition and support for the Best FIFA Awards."
Barca are 2-1 down to Athletic in the tie following the first leg at San Mames last Thursday.