Bangkok: Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran, which has enjoyed a dynamic and fruitful year, was named the AFC Inspiring Member Associations of the Year winner at the AFC Annual Awards 2017 in the Aksra Theatre King Power on Wednesday.
In their road to the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 campaign, Iran were the first Asian nation to qualify in June, while Persepolis reached the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League 2017.
Their performance of their clubs were not only consistent in football but futsal as well.
Sanaye Giti Pasand had a perfect record to top Group C of the AFC Futsal Club Championship Vietnam 2017, before a 3-2 loss to Thailand's Bluewave Chonburi to secure a runners-up spot.
On top of that, Iran were crowned winners in the inaugural AFC Beach Soccer Championship Malaysia 2017 in March to receive automatic qualification to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas, where they finished third after losing 3-2 on penalties to Tahiti.
The prestigious award is given to a Member Association in recognition of its professional administration and governance as well as its exceptional contribution to the development and promotion of the game at all levels within the country.
Recognising the diversity of MA’s in terms of facilities and resources and looking to ensure that more nations will receive recognition for their efforts and achievements in developing football in their country, the AFC in 2013 introduced three winners for the Member Association of the Year award as opposed to just one.
The AFC’s Member Associations are divided into three categories namely ‘Inspiring’, ’Developing’ and ‘Aspiring’ based on their overall footballing prowess.
Member Associations are assessed and awarded points on various areas encompassing the association’s activities such as the organisation of courses and seminars, competitions, grassroots and youth development, women’s programmes, social responsibility and special projects.
Points are also given for an MA’s hosting of AFC qualifying and finals tournaments as well as their national and club teams’ placing in AFC and FIFA competitions throughout the year.
"I’m grateful to be awarded by the AFC as the best federation in Asia. We have qualified for five different World Cups. I thank AFC for this," said Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran President Mehdi Taj.