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Laureus World Sports Awards 2021

Laureus World Sports Awards 2021

May 6, 2021


  • ‘The Laureus Award is now the crowning seventh trophy in a year which we will never forget’ says Bayern Munich Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
  • Second Laureus Award for US Open winner Naomi Osaka on a big night for tennis
  • Canada’s Max Parrot receives Comeback Award after winning battle with cancer
  • Tennis legend Billie Jean King honoured with Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Awards launches new Laureus campaign to promote sport for good: ‘Everyone Wins’
  • Global audience watches Laureus Awards announcement from Seville
  • Quotes, press releases, images and video available for media use, here
  • To access Laureus Awards VNR content for broadcast and online use from 20:30 CET, visit https://www.laureusarchive.com/record/~e2f38a7231. Laureus has cleared 3rd Party Sports content featured in the VNR for editorial news use when related to Laureus for a period of 72 hours after release only.
  • The VNR may also be access via the Laureus FTP: https://laureus.iweb-storage.com (Username: laureus-2021 | Password: Seville1). The same restrictions apply.

SEVILLE, SPAIN, May 6, 2021 – The winners of the 2021 Laureus World Sports Awards have been unveiled at a digital Awards Ceremony in Seville. Among the highlights were a fourth Laureus Award for Rafael Nadal and second Laureus Awards for Naomi Osaka and the Bayern Munich football team. 

The German sports-based community programme KICKFORMORE by KICKFAIR, which uses football to build bridges between cultures, particularly in areas with a high proportion of refugees, won the Laureus Sport for Good Award. 

As well as recognising the greatest sporting performances in 2020, despite the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, there was a new Award which acknowledged the wider impact on society made by athletes: Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton was the inaugural Winner of the Laureus Athlete Advocate of the Year Award for his involvement in the fight against racism.

And Liverpool and Egyptian football star Mo Salah was honoured with the Laureus Sporting Inspiration Award to mark his unique contribution over many years to those in need and for those less fortunate. 

The Laureus Awards event was staged in a new digital format rather than as its usual Awards Ceremony because of continuing uncertainty over travel and social contact. In line with the focus of Laureus on Sport for Good, the 2021 Awards told the inspirational stories of people who worked tirelessly to combat the pandemic, and highlighted the advocacy of sportsmen and sportswomen who have used their positions of influence to make a powerful impact on issues and conflicts which go beyond sport. 

In 2019/20, Laureus World Team of the Year Bayern Munich were winners of the UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and German Super Cup under new coach Hansi Flick. Bayern became the first team to win the Champions League with a 100% record. Among their victims were the once mighty FC Barcelona whom they beat 8-2. Flick’s points per game ratio surpassed even Pep Guardiola and Jupp Heynckes. Among the outstanding players in the team were Manuel Neuer, Robert Lewandowski, Alphonso Davies and Thomas Muller. The last time Bayern received this Laureus Award was in 2014. 

Bayern’s success has continued in 2021 with victory in the European Super Cup and most recently the Club World Cup to make them the first team since Barcelona in 2008/09 to hold six trophies. 

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Chairman of the Executive Board of Bayern Munich, said: “We have enjoyed the most successful year in our club’s history. FC Barcelona are the only other club to win six titles, back in 2009, and this Laureus Award is now the crowning seventh trophy in a year which we will never forget. I would like to thank the Laureus sports family for this Award. 

FC Bayern is a club with long tradition. Our recipe for success rests on great personalities from our history. With our magnificent fans around the world and our partners we are a family in sports just like the Laureus Academy. We see this Award as motivation to continue fulfilling the passion of fans around the world for football and for sport in general. 

Sport brings people together and we are very proud to be part of this community. We are a team so an Award like this belongs to everybody. We dedicate this Award to sports fans and all the teams in the world. Great things can only be achieved together,” said Rummenigge. 

Basketball giant Dirk Nowitzki, winner of the 2020 Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award, said: “The club motto Mia San Mia means more than just the winning of trophies. The responsibilities that go along with fame and success are also well noticed, campaigning against racism or the players initiative #WeKickCorona  are just two of the many projects that the club initiated. 

Being born in Germany almost automatically made me a football fan. The success, the domination for decades but also the culture of the club are the reasons why I always had the highest respect for FC Bayern München. Congratulations to the players, Hansi Flick, the coaching staff and all others involved.” 

The new Laureus Athlete Advocate of the Year Award was presented to Mercedes-AMG Petronas driver Lewis Hamilton, Britain’s record-equalling seven-time Formula One world champion, for his firm and outspoken support for racial justice. He wore a ‘Black Lives Matter’ race helmet and black race suit and took a knee at each Grand Prix. The Mercedes cars were painted in black livery as a statement of the team’s commitment to diversity. 

Hamilton, a double Laureus winner with the Breakthrough Award in 2008 and the Sportsman of the Year Award last year, shared with Lionel Messi, said: “A huge thank you to the Laureus World Sports Academy for presenting me with this incredible Award. This past year has been incredibly difficult for so many, but it has also been heartening to see the power of our collective voices spark new conversations and change. The impact of each and every one of you who have stood up, is so inspiring, so I want to thank you. Please keep fighting, keep shining your light. 

“The global rising to address the longstanding issue of systemic racism and inequality in our society has been monumental, but we must continue to fight. We must all see ourselves as responsible for making positive change in our world, and hold ourselves accountable, so that the promises of last year turn in to action. I truly believe that together, we will get there, and so I stand with you as we push forwards. I’m sending you all love and positivity, stay safe. Thank you.” 

The German sports-based community programme KICKFORMORE by KICKFAIR, which uses football to build bridges between cultures, particularly in areas with a high proportion of refugees, won the Laureus Sport for Good Award. The programme focuses on non-violence, human rights, gender equality and diversity. 

Based in the Stuttgart and Rhein-Neckar region, the programme uses football as a unifying, universal language to create positive change. Before every game, participants agree on 'fairness rules' and discuss their fulfilment after the game. Fairness points count as much as goals scored. Only those who play fair have a chance of winning. The students organise, moderate and reflect on what happens before, after and during the game. 

This initiates the acquisition of social skills and encourages rule awareness and respect. Older participants become youth leaders and pass on their knowledge and experience to younger ones acting as positive role models. KICKFORMORE is one of more than 250 community sports programmes in over 40 countries around the world. 

Tennis scooped the top two individual prizes with Spain’s Rafael Nadal winning the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award after his 13th French Open win which brought him level on 20 career Grand Slams with Roger Federer, and Naomi Osaka, who won the US Open for the second time, taking the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award. Osaka made a powerful statement at Flushing Meadows in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign by wearing different face masks in her matches, featuring the names of African Americans who died in recent years. 

Rafael Nadal said “I want to say thank you very much from the bottom of my heart to the Laureus Academy. I have had some amazing competitors: the rest of the sportsmen probably deserve the trophy the same as me, but this was the year for me and I can’t be happier. 

“Winning the French Open and equalling the 20th Grand Slam of Roger Federer has been an unforgettable moment. It means a lot to equal my great rival, but at the same time, my great friend. It’s something very special after all the history we have had together on and off court.” 

As well as being one of the most phenomenal goalscorers in football, Mo Salah has proved himself to be a massive supporter of countless causes, including many from his home town of Nagrig in Egypt. He is a powerful advocate of women’s equality in the Middle East and has been named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. 

Jurgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool, said: “When you think of Mo Salah, you think about an outstanding footballer and a great goalscorer, what you may not see is what kind of a good person he is. If I tell you he is an even better person than he is a player, then you may be able to imagine what kind of guy he is. This is well deserved. Congratulations. It’s another big one, Mo.” 

Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot was one of the most emotional winners of the night. He won the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award after fighting back from cancer to win X-Games gold medals. 

Patrick Mahomes took the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award after leading Kansas City Chiefs in 2020 to their first Super Bowl appearance and win in 50 years, at just 24. 

Tennis giant Billie Jean King, who won 39 Grand Slam titles and has been a lifelong advocate for gender equality and a pioneer for equality and social justice, has been honoured with the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award. She was also the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association and Women’s Sports Foundation. 

Inspirational Chris Nikic, who became the first person with Down’s Syndrome to complete a full Ironman, received the most votes in the global Laureus Sporting Moment Award public vote. Nikic, 21, from Maitland Florida, made history, completing the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile marathon run in Kona in November. “You can do things you never thought possible,” said Chris. The Award celebrates fair play, sportsmanship, dedication or overcoming adversity. It recognises a unique, emotional moment or story that touches the hearts of millions and inspires people worldwide. 

The 2021 Awards Show also marked the launch of Everyone Wins, a new global campaign to promote sport for good. The campaign will shine a light on young people facing some of the world’s toughest opponents on and off playing fields around the world, celebrating how the power of sport helps them overcome opponents like disadvantage, inequality, violence, racism and sexism to make our world a better place. Because every time sport defeats these opponents: Everyone Wins.                                     

Sean Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, said: “I’m delighted that despite a challenging year, we have been able to honour so many great sportsmen and women. The Winners, but also the Nominees who didn’t quite make it, are the people who have reminded us how inspiring and motivational sport can be once it returned after lockdown. The Awards Show kicks off an important new phase for Laureus with the launch of Everyone Wins, a global campaign which will help transform public awareness and understanding of Laureus and drive donations to Sport for Good.”  

The winners of Laureus World Sports Awards are selected by the ultimate sports jury - the Members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, the living legends of sport honouring the greatest athletes of today.

Laureus was founded by its Patrons Richemont and Daimler and is supported by its Global Partners Mercedes-Benz, IWC Schaffhausen and MUFG. 

The full list of Winners is:

Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award: Rafael Nadal
Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award: Naomi Osaka
Laureus World Team of the Year Award: Bayern Munich
Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award: Patrick Mahomes
Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award: Max Parrot
Laureus Sport for Good Award: KICKFORMORE by KICKFAIR
Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award: Billie Jean King
Laureus Athlete Advocate of the Year Award: Lewis Hamilton
Laureus Sporting Inspiration Award: Mo Salah
Laureus Sporting Moment of the Year Award: Chris Nikic 

Click here for full biographies of the Winners and list of Nominees. 

For further information, please contact:
Iain Clark
PR & Communications Manager
Tel: +44 (0) 207 514 2841   
E mail: Iain.Clark@laureus.com
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Laureus World Sports Awards 2021 (Photo: BARRY HAYDEN)
Lewis Hamilton is “Athlete Advocate” of the Year at the LWSA 2021