Hours before winning his maiden Ballon d'Or trophy, a Zagreb court dropped charges against Croatia football captain and Real Madrid star Luka Modric in a corruption trial on Monday. The ruling closed the case.
"There is not enough evidence that he (Modric) committed the criminal offence of perjury," Kresimir Devcic told AFP.
Early Tuesday morning, the 33-year-old became the first player other than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to claim the award in more than a decade. Former Brazil and AC Milan forward Kaka was the last player other than Messi or Ronaldo to win it, in 2007.
Having already won the FIFA Best award, Modric was the favourites to win the coveted award.
In May, he won a third successive UEFA Champions League trophy with Real Madrid. The midfielder then led his country to the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Croatia lost to France in the final but the small nation was overjoyed by its historic run, which temporarily quieted anguish over corruption and other problems plaguing the sport.
In March, Croatian prosecutors had charged Modric with committing perjury during evidence he gave in the multi-million-euro corruption trial of former Dinamo Zagreb boss Zdravko Mamic.
Modric testified in June last year over the details of his 2008 transfer from Dinamo Zagreb to Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur.
He went on to join Real Madrid in 2012.
Mamic and three other defendants were found guilty of charges of abuse of power and corruption that cost Dinamo, the current Croatian champions, more than 15 million euros ($17.3 million), and the state 1.5 million euros.
Mamic, who is currently in hiding in neighbouring Bosnia, was sentenced in June to six and a half years in jail.
Prosecutors allege cash was embezzled through fictitious deals related to player transfers.
(With AFP inputs)