Fifa president Sepp Blatter was “surprised” Argentina’s Lionel Messi won the World Cup Golden Ball award.
Barcelona forward Messi, 27, was named as the tournament’s best player after his side lost 1-0 to Germany in Sunday’s final in Rio de Janeiro.
Blatter said: “I was a little bit surprised when I saw Messi coming up to collect the best player of the competition.”
Argentina legend Diego Maradona called the decision “unfair”.
The 53-year-old, who was named the best player when Argentina won the World Cup in 1986, said “marketing people” had chosen the wrong man.
Speaking on his television programme, De Zurda, Maradona said Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez should have received the award.
The Golden Ball and other individual prizes, such as the Golden Glove award for the best goalkeeper, are decided by world governing body Fifa’s Technical Study Group, a panel including former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier.
Blatter believes Messi was given the award on the strength of his four goals during the group stage.
“If you compare the beginning of the tournament and why the Argentina team got into the final, they were decisive,” he said.
What is Fifa’s Technical Study Group?
Messi set up his side’s winner against Switzerland in the last 16 but was only a sporadic threat in the semi-final against Netherlands, which Argentina won on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
He then missed a clear chance in the final, when put through on goal by Lucas Biglia.
Messi told Spanish newspaper AS: “Right now I don’t care about the prize. I wanted to take Argentina to the World Cup for all the people.”
Rodriguez finished as the competition’s top scorer, with six goals from five games as Colombia reached the quarter-finals, where they lost to hosts Brazil.
Fifa’s Technical Study Group awarded the Silver Ball – for the tournament’s second-best player – to Germany forward Thomas Muller, with Netherlands attacker Arjen Robben winning the Bronze Ball.
Germany’s Manuel Neuer collected the Golden Glove, while France midfielder Paul Pogba was named the tournament’s best young player.