The two had dominated the award for the past decade, but Modric was the clear favourite for this year's Ballon d'Or.
Neither Messi nor Ronaldo showed up for the ceremony, and that did not sit well with the Croat, as he told Sportske Novosti (h/t Eurosport):
"I cannot say why someone did not attend—that's their choice. That is logical, is it not?
"It turns out ... trophies only have value when they get them. It is not fair to their playing colleagues, or to the voters who have nominated them for the past 10 years—nor for football or supporters.
"But I repeat, everyone behaves the way they think they need to."
Modric won the award on the back of a great campaign with Real and a Cinderella run to the final at the 2018 FIFA World Cup with Croatia, but the selection wasn't without controversy. Messi had to settle for fifth place despite a spectacular season with Barcelona, where he scored 34 goals and added 12 assists in La Liga.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic suggested Real Madrid President Florentino Perez played a part in the outcome:
Modric said the decision was based on his performances in 2018, not the quality of the players involved:
"Here we are talking about seasonal performance, and it probably means that all the coaches, players, football legends and journalists have voted the same.
"Or are they all mistaken at the same time?
"If we vote on the quality of the player, then the only thing left is to distribute all the trophies for Messi and Ronaldo as long as they are actively playing and to abandon any vote."
Modric also won FIFA's The Best award in September, and both Ronaldo and Messi skipped that ceremony as well. At the time, there were several big names around the sport who slammed the two for their decision, including Fabio Capello and Diego Forlan, per Goal.
Ronaldo wasn't the only Juventus player absent from the bulk of the award ceremonies, however, as the two main ones clashed with their schedule. The Ballon d'Or ceremony fell right in between matches against Fiorentina and Inter Milan, hated rivals in Serie A, and FIFA's The Best came one day after a fixture against Frosinone and two days before a clash with Bologna.
Things were similar for Barcelona, who played Girona the day before FIFA's ceremony and traveled to Leganes just a few days later. The Catalans also faced Villarreal and Leonesa one day before and two days after the Ballon d'Or ceremony, respectively, although Messi didn't feature in the second match.