Brawn team favorite for Team of the Year award Three of the United States most legendary teams and an unheralded newcomer are among the hot favorites to be nominated for the 2010 Laureus World Team of the Year Award. It was records all round as Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Steelers won their sport’s major championships in 2009, while the Brawn Formula One team astonished the motor sport world by winning the Formula One constructors’ and drivers’ world championships in its debut season.
The Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognize sporting achievement during the period January 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009, are recognized as the premier honors on the international sporting calendar.
The eventual winners, chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury made up of 46 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time, will be unveiled during a televised Awards Ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, March 10, 2010.
H.E. Khadem Al Qubaisi, Chairman of Aabar Investments PJSC, host partner of the 2010 Laureus World Sports Awards, said: “We are delighted that Abu Dhabi has been chosen to host the 2010 Laureus World Sports Awards. Sport is close to the hearts of all our people. Abu Dhabi is a city that harmoniously combines historic traditions and modern values. I am confident that active construction of sport facilities and creation of well-developed infrastructure makes Abu Dhabi an ideal venue for sports events of global significance. I am confident that our partnership with the Laureus World Sports Awards will be enormously successful.
“Aabar Investments PJSC, as the host partner of the event, is honored to bring this prestigious occasion to Abu Dhabi and to play a pivotal role in an event that touches the lives of so many globally. As a universal language, sports have no boundaries and create a positive impact on future generations. Aabar hopes to enhance awareness of the importance of sport to society and to develop its relationship with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation,” he added.
The Brawn Formula One Team amazed Formula One in 2009 by winning the drivers and constructors world titles in its debut year. Brawn was formed from the defunct Honda team in March 2009 when Ross Brawn, former technical director of Benetton, Ferrari and Honda, led a management buyout, following the Japanese manufacturer’s withdrawal from Grand Prix racing. With engines supplied by Mercedes-Benz, Brawn won the World Constructors Championship with their drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, and Button won the individual World Championship. During the year, Button won six Grand Prix and Barrichello won two.
Thousands of fans came onto the streets to celebrate the New York Yankees’ 27th - and record - World Series triumph after their victory in November over reigning champions Philadelphia Phillies. The Yankees’ World Series title was their first since 2000. In those nine years, owner George Steinbrenner has spent freely to put together a winning side, which includes the celebrated Alex Rodriguez. The hero of the World Series victory was Hideki Matsui, who became the first Japanese-born player to be named Most Valuable Player in the World Series.
Los Angeles Lakers won their 15th NBA title in 2009 in their record 30th play-off appearance. Only Boston Celtics have a better record with 17 titles. After losing in the 2008 play-offs, the Lakers came back to win the championship, beating Orlando Magic 4-1 in the final. Kobe Bryant was named Most Valuable Player in the finals for the first time in his career. While Pittsburgh Steelers won their record sixth Super Bowl in 2009 when they beat Arizona Cardinals 27-23. It was a particular success for Mike Tomlin, who joined the team in January 2007 and at 36, became the youngest head coach to win the Super Bowl.
FC Barcelona, under coach Joseph Guardiola, won their third Champions League/European Cup final in May 2009 beating English club Manchester United 2-0 in Rome, to add to their victories in 1992 and 2006. Barcelona also won a Spanish domestic double – winning the La Liga championship and the Copa del Rey. It was the first time a Spanish club had won the three competitions in the same season. Star player Lionel Messi was also named FIFA World Player of the Year.
Germany Women’s Football Team showed they were the most dominant national football team in the world by winning their fifth straight European Championship title, a feat which included an overwhelming 6-2 win over England in the final. They have also won the Women’s World Cup twice, in 2003 and 2007. Since the inception of the European Women’s Championship, Germany have been winners on seven occasions.
The Brazil Men’s Football Team denied the United States a shock victory by coming back from two goals down in the final to win the Confederations Cup in South Africa, a success which will give the five-times football world champions a major boost going into the 2010 World Cup. The US had a half time 2-0 lead, but Brazil struck back with two goals from Luis Fabiano and the winner from Lucio.
In other sports, the South African Rugby Team were named International Rugby Board Team of the Year in 2009, edging out Six Nations winners Ireland. The year began with a closely-fought 2–1 series win over the British and Irish Lions, which they followed with a convincing win in the Tri Nations Series, beating the All Blacks twice and losing only to Australia in Brisbane. Those performances took them to No 1 in the IRB rankings.
Golfer Morgan Pressel delivered the clinching point with her 3&2 victory over Anna Nordqvist to give the United States Solheim Cup Team their third straight win over Europe, at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois. At one point on the final day the singles scores were level, but eventually the US took control to win the session 8-4 to give an overall match score of 16-12. Michelle Wie, 19, who birdied the final hole to beat Helen Alfredsson, was the best American performer, going through the week unbeaten.
Pittsburgh Penguins ice hockey team became the first team since Edmonton Oilers in the Wayne Gretzky era to win the Stanley Cup having lost in the final the previous year. They also became the first team in 30 years to win the final play-off game on the road – at Detroit Red Wings - to clinch the title. Pittsburgh had struggled in the first half of the season, but they brought in Dan Bylsma as head coach in February and the team went 18-3-4, including 10-1-2 in March, to reach the play-offs.
Double Olympic gold medallist Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, said: “We have never had an American winner of the Laureus Team of the Year Award, so as an American I hope to see some of these great American teams nominated, but there is going to be great competition this year, so we will have to wait to see. I think it’s going to be a very tough decision to find the winners, who will receive their Award in our exciting new Awards Ceremony venue of Abu Dhabi.”
Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, offers a fascinating combination of the old and the new; a blend of Arabic hospitality and mystique where a mixture of culture and tradition come together against a backdrop of the most modern world-class infrastructure. Abu Dhabi is developing a reputation as a great sporting venue. The Laureus World Sports Awards is the latest high profile sports event to be staged in Abu Dhabi. Last year FIFA chose Abu Dhabi to stage football’s World Club Championship, and the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship are now highlights of the sporting calendar in the city.
There is a two-part voting process to find the winners of the Laureus World Sports Awards. Firstly, a Selection Panel of the world’s leading sports editors, writers and broadcasters from over 150 countries votes to create a shortlist of six nominations in various categories including Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, Laureus World Team of the Year, Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year and Laureus World Comeback of the Year. Then the members of the Laureus World Sports Academy vote by secret ballot to select the Award winners.
The Laureus Academy members also vote for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability and the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year, the nominations for which are made by specialist panels.