This year's Ballon d'Or awards ceremony continues to cause controversy after a report has called into question the credibility of one journalist who took part in the vote, Comoran writer Abdou Boina.
Ceremony organiser France Football listed Boina as a journalist in Comoros working for Albalad Comores, but Alwatwan.net (h/t Fox Sports) reported that newspaper has been shut down for six years.
The report also included comment from Toimimou Abdou, a sports photographer whom it's said used to work for Albalad Comores and had no memory of the journalist referenced:
"I am surprised to see that the daily Albalad Comoros exists. That I know and this is the reality: This newspaper is closed for almost six years. In this body, there has never been a reporter named 'Abdou Boina.' We had two sports reporters, in this case, Abdoul Youssouf for the French edition and Sharif Ousseine for the Arabic edition."
Real Madrid's Luka Modric midfielder won the 2018 Ballon d'Or to end a decade of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi dominance in the category, and the Croat referenced that duo as motivation after his victory, via ESPN:
Fayssoile Moussa provided comment on behalf of the Comoros Football Federation and added his disappointment that the Comoran flag used in France Football's article was 17 years old:
"I can understand that the Comoran juror, Abdou Boina, is a freelance journalist or a consultant. But that he is presented as coming from the daily Albalad Comoros is contempt of the country especially when France Football presents the country with a flag which does not exist for 17 years."
What's more, Albaladcomores.com—the website listed for the now-defunct Comoran newspaper—now takes visitors to a website that offers relationship advice.
Boina is listed as having voted for Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe as his first pick, with Modric and his former Real team-mate Ronaldo in second and third, respectively. Eden Hazard and Mohamed Salah were the fourth and fifth picks, with no mention of Barcelona maestro Messi, who finished fifth overall.
That marked the first time since 2010 that the Argentinian failed to make the Ballon d'Or's top three, and Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde was one of many left confused by his placement, per BT Sport:
An ESPN FC panel recently suggested Modric didn't deserve to win the award, and that Messi should have cracked the podium after all:
There were already questions being asked of this year's Ballon d'Or awards, but the ones surrounding Abdou Boina and the validity of the Comoran vote has added a new layer to the controversy.