The Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award went to two recipients for the first time. Footballer Lionel Messi and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton shared the honour earlier today.
The Mercedes driver and the FC Barcelona star staved off competition from Tiger Woods, Rafael Nadal, Marc Marquez and Eliud Kipchoge. When the votes were tallied, Messi and Hamilton tied for first place, in an unprecedented situation.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger presented the award to Lewis Hamilton, who happens to be a proud Gunner. The 6-time Formula One world champion said: “It’s all of our responsibility to use our platform for really pushing for gender equality, inclusivity and making sure that we are engaging and trying to represent where the world is today.”
— Laureus (@LaureusSport) February 17, 2020
Unfortunately, Messi was not in a position to attend the event, so he sent a video message thanking everyone. The Argentine star clinched his sixth Ballon d’Or in 2019 when Barcelona won La Liga for the 26th time.
In his video message, Messi admitted: “I apologise I was not able to come to the event tonight. I really wanted to be there for every but unfortunately I could not make it. I would like to thank the Academy for giving me this recognition.”
“The truth is that this is a very special award and I am honoured to be the first to win this from a team sport. Thank you very much.”
What Next for Lewis Hamilton and Lionel Messi?
Currently, Lewis Hamilton is preparing for the 2020 Formula One season and a bid to equal Michael Schumacher’s record. Pre-season testing kicks off on the 19th of February, as all 10 teams iron out potential issues before the season begins.
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi’s Barcelona is preparing for the Champions League, as they face SSC Napoli in the Round of 16.