What did Xavi Hernandez say about Qatar and its democracy?
His return to Barcelona has been heralded as the start of a successful new era, but Xavi's time in Qatar has included some controversial moments.
He described a potential return to Barcelona as "spectacular and exciting" and just days after, Xavi Hernández has now been confirmed to take over in the Camp Nou dugout, aiming to bring back the glory days he enjoyed as a player there.
Controlling the midfield in Pep Guardiola's record-breaking side and that of the dominant Spanish national team is what Xavi is most remembered for. That said, some of the comments he's made since forming close bonds with Qatar have also garnered attention, and with much less admiration.
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Xavi and his Qatari views
Speaking with Spanish paper Vanguardia back in 2017, when he was involved as ambassador for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Xavi answered a question about the life of ordinary citizens in the country.
"It's true there is no democracy in Qatar, but the people are happy. They are delighted with the royal family, they take their photographs in the car.
"They give them a salary just for living in the country and they take care of their citizens."
These statements were made around the time that Catalonia was pushing for a vote on independence from the rest of Spain, and a referendum for the autonomous community is something that he is in favour of.
A couple of years later, Xavi returned to this subject, and the two countries were directly compared.
“I do not live in a democratic country,” he said during an interview with Ara after having settled in Qatar, “but I believe that the system here works better than there,” referring to his homeland of Spain, which had a general election coming up.
“I will have to vote, of course. I want the best for my future and that of my children. And unfortunately, I see that Spain does not work in the best way.”
Again he repeated his support of life for those in Qatar.
“Here we have peace of mind, security...we have no house key, you leave the car running... Núria [his wife] even tells me that if we can continue here it will also be better for our children. Both were born here. In Qatar people are happy."