DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar’s Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) has purchased KAS Eupen, a second division soccer club based in Belgium’s Liège province, for an undisclosed amount, officials said on Wednesday.
The acquisition was made to further Aspire Zone’s “Football Dreams” programme, which scouts potential talent among adolescents in developing African nations as well as Vietnam, Thailand, Guatemala and Paraguay.
“We travel through these countries all year round with coaches and volunteers, organise matches, and provide the players with apparel. We then stage a final match in each country, with an international final held in Qatar,” Ivan Bravo, director general of Qatar’s Aspire Academy, told Reuters in an interview.
The winners selected at the international match are sent to a four-year training course in Senegal. Graduates from the Football Dreams programme will now be placed in the Eupen club, Bravo said.
“They will have a guaranteed place on the (Eupen) roster, and they will be playing,” he said.
“Qatar has the means and the resources to contribute to development in other countries that don’t have these resources. The leadership in Qatar is very committed to that,” Bravo said.
“Graduates will come to Doha and work with Qatari players. We wanted to do something that could help develop Qatari athletes. The idea is to find talented football players around the world that would help Qatari players become better players.”
AZF will oversee the management of the football-related activities of KAS Eupen, but will let existing management continue to oversee the club’s other sports, Bravo said.
While declining to disclose the purchase’s value, Bravo said “it was a modest amount.”
State-run Qatar Sports Investments - established in 2005 by son of the Emir and heir to the Qatari throne Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani - last year bought a 70 percent stake in French football club Paris St Germain.
The Gulf state will host the World Cup in 2022.
Reporting By Regan Doherty, Editing by Patrick Johnston