A number of individual footballers and teams have been included in the list of nominations for the annual Laureas World Sports awards.
Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé, Argentina, and Morocco are all nominated for their achievements at the World Cup, whilst Alexis Putellas is recognised in the female category. England women and Real Madrid also get team nominations, whilst Christian Eriksen’s recovery in resuming his career after almost dying on the pitch sees him up for Comeback of the Year.
What are the Laureas Awards
Founded in 1999, the Laureas World Sports awards are an annual ceremony that aims to recognise the best sporting achievements from the past year, both individual and team.
Laureas is derived from the Greek word for Laurel, which is regarded as a traditional symbol of victory in athletics.
They have often been described as sports version of the Oscars.
The main categories are Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year, Breakthrough and Comeback of the Year, and Best Sporting Moment.
In terms of individual awards, past winners include luminaries such as Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher and Usain Bolt.
In 2020 Lionel Messi shared the award for Best Sportsman with Lewis Hamilton, whilst Pelé, Johan Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer, and Bobby Charlton have all been the recipients of discretionary awards.
Indian cricket was also recognised. The image of Sachin Tendulkar carried on the shoulders of team-mates after helping them win the World Cup in 2011 was voted the Sporting Moment of the Decade.
(The award panel do not always get thing right. Both Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones are past winners whose awards were later rescinded after they were found guilty of doping offences).
Sportsman of the Year
Messi has again been nominated for Sportsman of the Year, after leading Argentina to World Cup glory, and winning the Golden Ball. His PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappé also scoops a nomination, having scored a hat-trick in defeat in the final.
Other nominations include NBA player Steph Curry, Rafael Nadal, and last year’s winner, Max Verstappen.
Sportswoman of the Year
Double Ballon d’Or winner Alexis Putellas is the only footballer nominated in the female category, where she finds herself pitted against the likes of Iga Świątek and Shelly-Ann Frasier Pryce.
Team of the Year
However, three out of the six nominees in the team category are from football.
Argentina must be among the favourites, having won their third World Cup in Qatar.
And then there is Real Madrid, who not only won the league title last season but also beat Liverpool to clinch a record 14th Champions league.
Also finding themselves on the list are England’s women team, the Lionesses. They beat Germany to win the European Championships, only the second major trophy an English team has ever won.
The French men’s rugby team, Red Bull F1, and Golden State Warriors are the other teams nominated.
Breakthrough of the Year
Among the nominees for Breakthrough of the Year are the Morocco men’s football team. This recognises their achievement in Qatar, where they became not only the first African, but also the first Arab nation reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Comeback of the Year
Many will be pleased to see Christian Eriksen nominated for comeback of the year. The midfielder almost died when he suffered a cardiac arrest on the field playing for Denmark in the Euros against Finland in Copenhagen.
Only the prompt intervention of team-mates and medical staff helped save his life.
Although he was subsequently fitted with a heart monitor that helped regulate his arrythmia, his contract with Inter Milan was cancelled because regulations in Italy, do not allow players to take to the field wearing such devices.
There were some who believed that he would never play football again, but, fortunately, the rules in England are not so strict, and Premier League Brentford offered him the chance to resume his career.
So well did he play for them that he earned himself a summer move to Manchester United, where he has become an integral part of the midfield under Erik ten Hag (before getting injured).
Other nominees in this category include Tiger Woods, who made a return to competitive golf, after suffering a major car accident that left him with such bad injuries many thought he would never play the game again.
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