|Former names||ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence|
Coordinates: Aspire Academy (Arabic: أكاديمية أسباير 'Akādīmiyat 'Asbāyr) is a sports academy based in the Aspire Zone in Qatar, founded in 2004 with the goal to scout and help develop Qatari athletes, whilst also providing them with secondary school education.
Aspire Academy was established by an Emiri Decree, No. 16 of 2004, as an independent government-funded agency that reported directly to the Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani through the Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani.
Later, an Emiri Decree – No.1 of 2008 – incorporated the Aspire Academy as a strategic business unit (SBU) into the new, parent organization of Aspire Zone Foundation. Despite the switch from an independent government body to an SBU, the original purpose and objectives of the Aspire Academy remained the same.
On 17 November 2005, the Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani led an opening ceremony of the Aspire Dome, essentially signaling the global announcement of Aspire Academy as an international institute of high standing. Over the years, it has received international recognition.
Aspire own Spanish team Cultural Leonesa and Belgian team K.A.S. Eupen. In August 2017, Spanish side Atlético Astorga FC announced links with Aspire Academy. The link up saw some Aspire based players join the club. As of 3 January 2018, Aspire also have an official partnership with Leeds United in England. They also have a satellite academy in the African country of Senegal.
In 2014, the Qatar U-19 National Football Team, composed solely of past or current Aspire Academy student-athletes, won the 38th edition of the AFC U-19 Championship in Myanmar, for the first time in Qatar's history.
- Mutaz Essa Barshim, Aspire Academy's graduate is the current World Indoor Championships title holder in High Jump and has the second best outdoor high jump in history set in the 2014 Diamond League.
- Hammer Thrower, Ashraf El Seify, graduated from Aspire Academy in 2014, won a gold medal at the 2012 Asian Junior Athletics Championships and 2012 World Junior Athletics Championships setting a new World Junior Record and World Youth Best. In 2014, Ashraf became the 1st athlete to successfully defend his title at the IAAF World Junior Championships.
There have been several controversies regarding the academy. One such controversy is the allegation that Qatar bought votes to host the 2022 World Cup with the academy, with critics stating that Aspire sent scouts to Thailand and Guatemala, countries with little footballing history, due to both countries having representation on the FIFA Executive Committee. In addition, Paraguay, one of the countries with a recently opened program, is home to CONMEBOL president Nicolas Leoz. However, the statements were denied by Qatar.
Most notably, there have been many allegations that Qatar plans to assimilate academy players into their 2022 World Cup squad. This is bolstered by Qatar's lenient policy on naturalization of athletes for sports.
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