BARCELONA, February 9, 2012 - Laureus World Sports Academy Member Miguel Indurain, the Spanish Tour de France legend, has presented the 2012 Laureus World Team of the Year Award to FC Barcelona at their training ground.
There to receive the Award was (left-to-right) Lionel Messi, Barcelona captain Carles Puyol (Indurain) and Eric Abidal. Also present was Gabriel Masfurroll, a member of the Board of Tustees for the Fundación Laureus España.
It was the fourth time Barcelona have been nominated for this prestigious Award and the first time they have won it.
Lionel Messi was also nominated for the third time in three years for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, while Frenchman Eric Abidal was nominated for the Laureus Comeback of the Year Award, following his recovery from cancer to play in Barcelona’s winning Champions League final team against Manchester United.
Although those Awards went respectively to tennis world No 1 Novak Djokovic and Northern Irish golfer Darren Clarke, it is unprecedented for any team to have three Nominations in three categories in one year and a testament to Barcelona’s strength.
Winners of the Champions League and the Spanish League in the 2010/11 season, under coach Pep Guardiola, the highlight of another memorable year for Barcelona was the brilliant display against Manchester United in the Champions League final at London’s Wembley Stadium in May.
It was the fourth time in total Barcelona have won Europe’s leading club competition and the third time in six seasons. Barcelona also retained the La Liga trophy for the third straight year, finishing with 96 points. The biggest name in their all-star team, Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest footballer of his generation and still just 24, scored 53 goals in all competitions for Barcelona in 2010/11.
The Laureus World Sports Awards are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 47 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time.
Two of the greatest footballers of all time, Laureus Academy Members Franz Beckenbauer and Bobby Charlton paid their own special tributes to Barcelona.
German football legend Franz Beckenbauer said: “Barcelona are the best team in the world and they are almost perfect. If you see them play, they are fantastic. They are not only the best team, they are one of the most spectacular teams in the world. I would put them in the same class as other great teams from the past such as the Real Madrid team of the 1950s.”
And England legend Bobby Charlton, whose club Manchester United have lost twice in the Champions League final to Barcelona, said: “They have Messi and they’re very fortunate to have Messi. He’s a great player. But they also have an unbelievable group of artistic players in the middle of the field - Iniesta and Xavi. They have a philosophy and a passing system of play which everyone is expected to do and, unfortunately for the rest of us, they have the good players as well to actually make it happen. They have had a concentration of really, really great players and that’s why Barcelona are the success that they are at the moment. And it’s going to continue.”
In 2007 Barcelona also won the Laureus Spirit of Sport Award for their ground-breaking initiative to wear the UNICEF logo on their shirts, rather than a sponsors, and to contribute funds to the humanitarian organisation.