Barcelona pulls Messi from attending FIFA awards ceremony

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ZURICH (AP) Lionel Messi will not attend the FIFA awards ceremony later Monday, when Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to be named the world’s best player for 2016.

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Barcelona says it decided Messi would skip the event in Zurich and be “prioritizing preparations” for a match on Wednesday.

Messi’s teammates, including Neymar, who could be named in a World XI voted for by players, will also not travel.

Ronaldo is favored to win his fourth FIFA player award after helping Portugal and Real Madrid become European champions last year.

Messi has five FIFA best player awards and has been runner-up in all other years since 2007.

Barcelona hosts Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey. The defending champions lost the first leg 2-1 in Bilbao.