DILI (1 Aug 2011) – Asean Football Federation (AFF) President and former AFC President His Royal Highness Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah ibni Sultan Abu Bakar Riayatuddin al-Muadzam Shah will be presented with the 2011 AFC Diamond of Asia award.
Within hours of this decision by the AFC Executive Committee this week, an AFC delegation led by AFC Acting President Zhang Jilong visited him at Istana Pahang to convey the news to the former King of Malaysia, who served as the AFC President from 1994 until 2002.
FIFA Vice-President HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, AFC Vice-President Moya Dodd, AFC Executive Committee member HE Sheikh Ali Bin Khalifa and AFC General Secretary Alex Soosay accompanied Jilong to meet the former AFC chief.
HRH Sultan Ahmad Shah expressed his happiness upon being considered for Asian football’s premier accolade, which is bestowed upon an individual for exemplary contribution towards the development and promotion of football, on and off the field within the Asian continent.
“It’s a great honour. You are very kind,” said the 80-year-old Sultan of the Malaysian state of Pahang.
Jilong lauded the Sultan’s contribution to Asian football by saying: “AFC and the Asian football family can never forget your contribution. The AFC Executive Committee unanimously decided to honour you.”
Previous recipients of the award include Saburo Kawabuchi (2005), Joseph S Blatter (2006), Lennart Johannson (2007), Ken Naganuma (posthumously; 2008), General Farouk Bouzo (2009) and Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak (2010).
“I look forward to closer co-operation between AFC and AFF in the future,” said HRH Sultan Ahmad Shah.
FIFA Vice President HRH Prince Ali said: “We would like AFC to return to its founding essence and honouring Your Majesty is one of the first steps.”
The Diamond of Asia award will be presented to HRH Sultan Ahmad Shah at the AFC Annual Awards ceremony to be held in Kuala Lumpur’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel on November 23, 2011.
The honour may be conferred for a single contribution of great importance or for on-going 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.
PIX: HRH Sultan Ahmad Shah (third from right) poses with AFC Acting President Zhang Jilong (third from left), FIFA Vice-President HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein (second from right), AFC Vice-President Moya Dodd (extreme right), AFC Executive Committee member HE Sheikh Ali Bin Khalifa (second from left) and AFC General Secretary Alex Soosay.