|The AFC has a controversial ‘no show, no win’ rule at the awards ceremony, so only Server Dejparov, left, and Iran’s Hadi Aghily, right, were in contention on the night [EPA]|
Uzbekistan’s Server Djeparov was crowned Asian Player of the Year for the second time in his career at a glittering awards ceremony on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old attacking midfielder, who also won the award in 2008, got the nod for his influential displays in Uzbekistan’s run to the Asian Cup semi-finals and for helping former club FC Seoul to the South Korean double.
But it was a 50-50 shoot-out for the prize with Iran’s Hadi Aghily the only other nominee present at the awards ceremony. Under Asian rules, only those who attend can win.
“This is my second time I receive this honour. It’s a great pleasure for me – this is very important for me and also very important for the Uzbekistan people,” Djeparov told the audience at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
Djeparov joined Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab in July and has also shone for Uzbek teams Pakhtakor and Bunyodkor during his career.
He had earlier defended the controversial “no show, no win” rule which has led to a number of unexpected winners of Asia’s top football award, handed out by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
“The award is conducted only once a year. It’s not only important for players but for the entire AFC. We need to sacrifice. Anyone who wants to win the award, they are supposed to be present at the ceremony,” he said Tuesday.
But an AFC official also suggested this week that the body would review the policy, which has attracted much criticism and was described as “unfair” by its former secretary-general, Peter Velappan.
“It is unfair to impose the rule. It has to be changed,” Velappan told news agency AFP.
“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.”
The policy has effectively ruled out a host of strong European-based candidates in recent years, including Manchester United’s Park Ji-Sung, Shunsuke Nakamura and Tim Cahill.
But nominations are also based on a points system including only Asian club competitions, World Cup and Asian Cup matches and Olympic competitions.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter was guest of honour at the awards show.