Beckham, Zidane, Maradona, Pele? Big football names set to grace Manila AFC Awards night
Former France star Zinedine Zidane and English star David Beckham are among the football ambassadors being eyed to attend the AFC Awards night on November 30. AP

FOOTBALL legends could grace the 60th anniversary celebration of the Asian Football Confederation in Manila, highlighted by the AFC Awards Night on November 30 at the Rizal Ballroom of Makati Shangri-la.

Although the Philippine Football Federation has yet to confirm their identities, David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Diego Maradona, and Pele are some of the names being “floated” to attend the prestigious event.

“Normally they grace important occasions all over the world, and because this is a big, important event for AFC, then there will be football ambassadors to grace the occasion,” PFF general secretary Ed Gastanes said on Tuesday during an early dinner where they rolled out the agendas for the anniversary celebration.

“We don’t know who they are (yet),” he was quick to add. “But they should be football ambassadors who are popular worldwide and synonymous with football.”

Around 500 guests are expected to be present, led by Fifa president Sepp Blatter, AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, and AFC general secretary Dato Alex Soosay.

Nineteen AFC executive committee members, delegates from 47 AFC member associations, and Fifa confederation presidents and officials are also expected to come.

The AFC, unknown to many, was founded in Manila in 1954, reason why it awarded the hosting right to the country, which is one of the 12 founding members of the Asian governing body for football.

“Hopefully it will all work out well,” PFF president Nonong Araneta, who is the designated chairman of the organizing committee, said of the event, which will be beamed all over the world.

Awards that will be given out are as follows:  Diamond of Asia, Dream Asia, Member Association-Aspiring, Member Association-Developing, Member Association-Inspiring, and President’s Recognition Awards for Grassroots Football.

National Team of the Year, Coach of the Year, Referee of the Year, Club of the Year, Women Player of the Year, and, last but not least, Player of the Year, complete the list of awards.

While the country is not expected to win any award, the opportunity to host the grand occasion is already an honor in itself, the PFF said.

“Hosting, alone, is more than enough,” Gastanes said.

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