AC Milan, the world’s most successful soccer club in terms of trophies won, sent a team stacked full of its former stars to take part in a charity match against counterparts from Persepolis FC.
Thursday’s game, watched by 65,000 fans in Persepolis’ Azadi Stadium, was won 3-1 by the seven-time European champion.
But as Iran’s nuclear deal will help lift some of the economic sanctions that have hurt its growth, this exhibition has bigger meaning for Persepolis and the development of Iranian football.
It is part of a collaboration that began at the end of last year when Persepolis president Mohammad Rouyanian visited Italy to meet with Milan chief executive and V.P. Adriano Galliani.
Milan’s website reports that the “Rossoneri” (“black and reds”) will be sharing knowledge of the club’s successful youth academy with Persepolis — which is Iran’s most successful team and one of the most popular in Asia.
“Mohammad Rouyanian expressed his admiration for the way that the club and its proprietor made Milan the most decorated in the world,” the website said. “The desire to create and develop a form of collaboration between the two clubs came naturally.
“Collaboration is already underway that will see the Milan Academy help to export and replicate the Milan Model with Persepolis, which celebrates its 50-year anniversary this year.”
Legendary defender Paolo Maldini headed a star-studded Milan lineup at the 100,000-capacity Azadi Stadium for a match that marked the last Persepolis appearance for former Iran captain Mehdi Mahdavikia.