Photo: FC Barcelona (Barça) Named the Laureus Team of the Year
The Barcelona soccer club and Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic were honored Monday at the Laureus Sports Awards as the Best Team and Best Male Athlete of 2011, respectively.
At a ceremony held in London, Djokovic won out over Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi, who was nominated for the third consecutive year for the prestigious trophy but who was bested in the last two editions of the awards by Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.
Barcelona had been nominated for the award along with U.S. pro basketball champions Dallas Mavericks, England’s national cricket team and the Red Bull Formula 1 racing team.
Spain’s World Cup-winning national soccer squad won the Laureus top team honors last year.
The Barcelona team won both the Spanish first division and the UEFA Champions League in 2011.
The 47 retired sports greats who voted on the prizes - among them Miguel Indurain, Michael Jordan and Boris Becker - emphasized that one of the “culminating moments” of last year was the “brilliant” Champions League final in Wembley in which Barcelona beat Manchester United 3-1 on goals by Messi, Pedro Rodriguez and David Villa.
The judging panel also took into account that Barcelona has won the Champions League crown in three of the last six seasons.
The delegation for Barcelona that traveled to London to receive the award was headed by club president Sandro Rossell.
The gala also included a tribute to the late Spanish golfer Severiano Ballesteros.