Junji Ogura awarded prestigious AFC Diamond of Asia
Kuala Lumpur: Asian football's highest individual accolade - the Diamond of Asia - has been awarded to Japan Football Association Honorary President and former President Junji Ogura.
An AFC Executive Committee member since 1994, Ogura served Asian football in various capacities including as AFC’s Youth Competitions Organising Committee Chairman and AFC’s Futsal Committee Chairman. Built on the back of his strong leadership, Asian futsal has seen unprecedented growth and is now considered highly with teams like Japan and Iran featuring among the world’s top futsal teams.
"I am very happy because this year is the 60th anniversary of AFC and on this occasion I receive this award." Ogura said. "It is a very big honour for me. Japanese football is gradually improving and is catching up to the world and last time we were champions of the Asian Cup and also this year the ladies were the champions and this is very good for us.
"I am most proud of the ladies becoming world champions. The Japan FA worked very hard and this is a good result."
Credited as one of Japan’s footballing pioneers, Ogura was elected as the 12th President of the Japan Football Association in 2010 and inducted as Japan Football Association’s Honorary President in 2012.
Ogura, determined to raise the standard of Japanese football to greater heights, subsequently served as the General Secretary of Japan’s World Cup 2002 bidding committee, a global extravaganza which would come to be remembered as the “World Cup of Smiles”.
The same year saw Ogura become only the third Japanese official to be appointed to the FIFA Executive Committee, gaining further recognition for his contribution to Asian football.
Under Ogura’s leadership as JFA President, the Samurai Blue lifted their fourth AFC Asian Cup trophy in 2011 and Japan’s women’s national side emerged triumphant at the FIFA 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany.
Through his tireless devotion to football, Ogura was bestowed the FIFA Order of Merit in 2010 and the Order of the Rising Sun Award in 2013.
Ogura is the tenth recipient of the elite accolade after Saburo Kawabuchi (2005), Joseph S Blatter (2006), Lennart Johannson (2007), Ken Naganuma (posthumously; 2008), General Farouk Bouzo (2009), Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak (2010), HRH Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah (2011), Tan Sri Hamzah Haji Abu Samah (posthumously; 2012) and Dr. Chung Mong-joon (2013).
The AFC Diamond of Asia is the most prestigious AFC award bestowed upon an individual for exemplary contribution towards the development and promotion of football, on and off the field within the Asian continent.
This honour may be conferred for a single contribution of great importance or for ongoing contributions throughout a number of years and is a way for AFC to acknowledge the recipient's sterling services. The award is given annually and always to one person - selected by the AFC Executive Committee - each year.
The recipient of this accolade enjoys a distinguished position within AFC, and is entitled to special privileges, including invitations to all AFC competitions and to all AFC official functions and events. Furthermore, the recipient ranks only after the AFC Executive Committee in terms of importance within AFC's protocol and hierarchy.