There has been a huge turnout from the football community for the latest edition of the ASPIRE4SPORT Congress and Exhibition, which is being held at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium in London. With big-name speakers such as Arrigo Sacchi, who offered his vision on the changes that the sport is currently undergoing, the event, organised by the Qatar-based Aspire Academy, has brought together around 500 attendees, chiefly representatives of football clubs and organisations involved in the game. Providing a platform to exchange ideas and build networks, the two-day conference boasts a packed programme also featuring speakers such as Kevin Keegan, Roy Hodgson and Claude Makelele.
The director general of Aspire, Spaniard Iván Bravo, gave a comprehensive presentation outlining the academy's project, explaining that it has been working with young Qatari footballers for a number of years to produce top-quality talent for the 2022 World Cup, which is to be held in the country. "A crucial period has now begun for us," he said. "There are five years until the World Cup, and we're going to be ready for it. People tend to underestimate or criticise Qatar, but behind the scenes there is a lot of work being done by coaches and players. We've shown we can compete with the likes of Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia; we're sure we'll also be able to compete with Spain, Italy or Brazil in five years' time."
ASPIRE4SPORT also features the Aspire Tech Conference, a section focusing on sports technology that is to offer an overview on the status of the Qatar 2022 stadiums and the progress of works on overall infrastructure. Meanwhile, the congress organisers have also included a space devoted to the recruitment and development of talent in the shape of the Aspire Global Academy Summit, an opportunity for clubs from around the world to exchange ideas. Spain are being represented by Barcelona, Real Madrid, Athletic Club and Villarreal.