rank among Asia's most prominent football nations. Their most recent successes include gold medals at the Asian Games Football Tournament in 1998 and 2002. They are supreme masters of the game of futsal, having won successive confederation championships between 1999 and 2002. It was therefore no surprise to see Iran
as the only Asian team keeping abreast with the world's best at the FIFA Futsal World Championship in Guatemala in 2000. Several players switched to European clubs after the 1998 FIFA World Cup? - most of them to Germany. Ali Daei (Arminia Bielefeld, Bayern Munich and Hertha BSC), Mahdi Mahdavikia (VfL Bochum and Hamburger SV), Karim Bagheri (Arminia Bielefeld, then Charlton Athletic in England), Vahid Hashemian (VfL Bochum) and Khodaded Azizi (1. FC Cologne, then San José in the USA) have all helped to spread the reputation of Iranian football around the world.