x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Players receive red card from Asian Fotball Federation award

AFC is considering changing its rule that only players who attend can win the award.

KUALA LUMPUR //Asian football's governing body hinted it may scrap its controversial no show, no win rule yesterday after only two people turned up to claim the Asian Player of the Year award.

The body will try to make the award "more attractive", an official said, after only Iran's Hadi Aghily and Server Djeparov of Uzbekistan arrived ahead of tonight's ceremony, slashing a six-strong shortlist to two.

Under a much-criticised rule which has eliminated a host of Europe-based stars from Asia's top honour, only players who attend the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) annual awards show are eligible for the trophy.

But an AFC official suggested the policy was under review after shortlisted players Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda of Japan, Asian Cup top-scorer Koo Ja-cheol and fellow South Korean Yeom Ki-hun declined to attend the event in Kuala Lumpur.

"Unfortunately they are not able to attend the awards ceremony due to their club commitments," he said. "It means that either Djeparov or Hadi will be the winner of the 2011 Player of the Year award."

This week, Kagawa and Honda's clubs, Borussia Dortmund and CSKA Moscow, are both in European action, Koo's Vfl Wolfsburg play in the Bundesliga on Saturday and Yeom's Suwon Samsung Bluewings are busy in the K-League.

But Djeparov said players needed to "sacrifice" to receive the award, while Aghily said attending the ceremony showed respect to both the AFC and fans.

"I took about eight hours' flight to come here but I think we should show more respect to AFC and to the fans. And because of that I did my best to come here and be with everybody," the Iranian said.

Peter Velappan, the former AFC secretary general, said "It is totally against the spirit of the award to honour the best player from Asia. If he can't come, then a representative from his association can receive the award."