In this award ceremony, Diogo Ribeiro won over three greats…

Three greats together for the same award and Diogo Ribeiro made the… Rui Costa

The Sports Business Awards Gala featured a tribute to Carlos Lopes and an award shared by the big three, with the Olympic swimmer receiving the distinction in place of Benfica’s president

The IV Sports Business Awards Gala took place tonight at the Thalia Theatre, in Lisbon, organized by the Sports Foundation and the Sponsor a Sportsman Initiative, and which featured several highlights with a tribute to the Olympic champion Carlos Lopes, the joining of rivals Benfica, Sporting and FC Porto in sharing the same prize and also the Olympic swimmer Diogo Ribeiro taking the place of… Rui Costa.

The president of Benfica was expected to receive the penultimate award of the night, but did not attend the ceremony, having been replaced by the Olympic swimmer Diogo Ribeiro, who was in the audience because, shortly before, he had been awarded the Young Sports Practitioner Award, as well as the track cyclist Maria Martins, and revealed himself to be sparse in words: “I’m proud to be at the club I’m at and I want to thank you,” he said.

The ceremony brought together, in a salutary moment of sharing between rivals, Benfica, Sporting, and FC Porto to jointly receive the Special Award ‘Patrocina Un Deportista’/Sports Eclecticism, with the representatives of the three clubs called to the stage.

FC Porto was represented by Renato Barroso, president of the Board of the General Assembly of the Dragons of Lisbon, and Luzia Godinho, member of the board of the same institution, who thanked the blue-and-white club and justified the absence of the president of the dragons, Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa.
“As you know, the president traveled and was in Belgium yesterday, specifically accompanying the football team in Antwerp,” he recalled.

On behalf of Sporting, Miguel Afonso, a member of the Board of Directors, proudly praised the eclecticism of the green-and-white emblem. «We are the club of the greatest ever, the great Carlos Lopes with whom I have the honour of being at this gala, of the great Bessone Bastos of handball, of the eternal European champion team of cross country, of Chana and Livramento of hockey and of the eternal and missed Joaquim Agostinho», he stressed.

The various winners of the Sports Business Awards Gala shared the stage for an ensemble photo. Photo: DR.

The list of notables also included former athlete and Olympic champion Carlos Lopes, who was honored almost 40 years after winning Olympic gold in the marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, with the Special ‘Sports Foundation’/Career Award.

“After so many years, to still have this recognition… I have the feeling that I have done perfect things, but I also have to say that alone we are nothing – behind us we have to have good coaches, good clubs, and good people. I did a lot of training and overcame a lot of difficulties and obstacles, but I did it – I’m still from the time when I said the important thing is to be present, but I wanted to be the best», he said, honored by the standing ovation he received.

In addition to the Special Prize ‘Patrocina Un Deportista’/Sports Eclecticism, delivered simultaneously to Benfica, Sporting, and FC Porto, and the Special Prize “Sports Foundation”/Career, received by Carlos Lopes, the Portuguese teams of wheelchair handball and women’s football with the Team Award, the latter represented by José Couceiro, vice-president of the Portuguese Football Federation.

«It is a satisfaction for our players, who have made so much effort, as well as so many athletes who are being rewarded here and deservedly awarded so that we can be able to assert ourselves in this specific area. We have a lot to work on», declared one of the main people responsible for the FPF, proud of the distinction and recognition for the work developed by national women’s football.

Among the guests present at the event, which included the delivery of six other distinctions, were several mayors and heads of different public institutions, associations, and partner companies, with particular emphasis on the president of the IPDJ, Vítor Pataco, who also represented the Secretary of State for Youth and Sports, João Paulo Correia, whose presence was initially planned.