All photos courtesy of Al Sadd FC on Flickr
Hundreds of football fans turned up at Hamad International Airport last night to welcome the now-former FC Barcelona Captain Xavi Hernandez to Qatar as the newest and most high-profile member of Al Sadd Sports Club.
The superstar Spanish midfielder, known as Xavi, landed in Doha around 11pm. He and his wife Nuria Cunillera were greeted at the airport by Al Sadd Sports Club General Secretary Jassim Al Rumaihi and other club officials, while fans took photos and asked for autographs.
Xavi is joining Al Sadd on a three-year deal in a joint player-coach role, the football club announced in a press conference last month after months of speculation about his possible move.
The 35-year-old will also work at Aspire Academy and serve as an ambassador for the 2022 World Cup.
Xavi is expected to undergo medical tests at Aspetar, the specialist orthopedic and sports medicine hospital this morning, the club said in a statement issued last night.
He will be formally introduced to fans and media in a press conference on Thursday afternoon ahead of his debut for Qatar Stars League next season.
Xavi’s move to Qatar comes immediately after his team celebrated a triple win in Barcelona this season, with victories over Juventus in the 2015 UEFA Champions League final, while also winning La Liga and Copa del Rey.
He led his team in a parade through the Catalan capital on Sunday, followed by celebrations at Barca’s home stadium Camp Nou, before getting on a plane to Qatar.
His move to Doha follows that of another former Spain teammate Raul, who played for Al Sadd from 2012 to 2014.
Xavi made his professional debut in August 1998 against RCD Mallorca. He has since played in more than 760 matches and scored 82 goals, while he has represented his country 133 times.
The athlete has also won over 25 trophies, more than any other Spanish football player in history.
Xavi chose Qatar’s club over an offer from New York City’s MLS, according to the Qatar Tribune.
Al Sadd is one of the top local football teams in Qatar. It won the Asian Champions League in 1989 and 2011, and finished third in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup after losing to Barcelona in the semi-finals.
Laudrup to stay
In other football news, current Lekhwiya SC manager Michael Laudrup will stay on for at least another year after recently extending his contract with the team, his representative in Doha said.
On Twitter, the manager’s representative confirmed that the former Danish international would continue in his position:
Michael Laudrup after thinking several offers had to end has decided to sign one year contract with his former clup Lekhwiya Fc.
— Bayram Tutumlu (@BayramTOficial) June 8, 2015
The news put to bed rumors that he would leave Qatar for other possible positions with clubs in the UK.
Are you excited about Xavi playing for Qatar? Thoughts?
Holding hands in public? Someone may need to explain a few things too him.
I wonder if he has his multi-exit visa sorted yet.
Come on! It gets a bit boring hearing the same “jokes” about kafala, exit system, etc.
If you’re on the receiving end of it then it is Definitely not a “joke”. Who was the French footballer not allowed out for ages?
Yes, because your comments were motivated by genuine concern for him and not for cheap laughs, just as you were troubled by the plight of the French footballer, whose name you don’t even recall..
My comment was motivated by concern for all those who would choose to leave – regardless of their name or profession – but are prevented from doing so.
Saleem, just accept that we are from different cultures. I don’t know what nationality you are but to you the Kafala doesn’t seem much of a big deal – almost normal perhaps. To many other cultures it is an abhorrence, worse (in respect of the exit visa) than the systems of tied employment that men fought to have abolished over 100 years ago. Given the duplicity of Qatar’s oft announced “intention to reform the Kafala” frankly some of the comments on it are pretty restrained.
you sir, I like you!
Not looking for cheap laughs. Looking for change, to help move Qatar to where it says it wants to be – ‘an advanced nation’ (and it’s got 15 years left to meet its own target).
LOL you want to compare homos#xuality with fasting obligations? In most Muslim nations you can be jailed if not executed for being gay.
Are you stupid? What did I just say? That the most advanced nation still has not rid itself of religion influenced laws, and you are holding traditionally conservative countries to a higher standard
What is it with people thinking the US is so advanced?
I don’t know, perhaps it might have something to do with the fact that militarily they lead the pack technologically, Silicon Valley alone trumps all of Europe combined, the global finance industry is defined by what starts on Wall Street, this just a few of the things that come to mind, but who knows, maybe a good healthcare system, free education, and economy drained by bailing out broke friends is the way to go.
Deleting because the thread is devolving.
Simple minds are entertained by simple things.
I guess kalafa and exit permit systems are more newsworthy than a footballer who earns millions by just kicking a ball who plays in a stadium built by blue-collar labourers that cannot easily change sponsors nor exit the state.
13 million riyals, reportedly: ie a bit over 1,000,000 Qar per month.
And then we are told that Qatar brings in workers from Nepal because that’s all they can afford. And no overtime, because they don’t have the money for it. Etc.
Really puts things into perspective.
Must be more like 1,000,000 QR a week right? He would have been on way more than 1mil a month at Barca.
But he would of been taxed.
Quite right. This is why I don’t earn as much as him, I can’t do maths.
His typical monthly salary would be about 3,500,000Qar. And here’s me thinking he could live on just 1,000,000Qar per month!
All this great players nearing retirement come out here more for the money then playing football as is clear from past escapades of this great players
There’s no smoke without a fire,as the saying goes. Fix it and no one can joke about it. Simple solution,until then,deal with it! And yes I 2nd AEC’s comment,forget about French footballers,how about residents whose parent or child expires suddenly God forbid and they can’t leave because “Sheikh is gone to Harrod’s for groceries,he’ll only return next week”? I can assure you,if you or me were unfortunate enough to be in that situation,God forbid,it wouldn’t be funny at all. This is happening,in some form or another,on an almost daily basis in this country,satire and sarcasm,like elsewhere in the world,is directed at pertinent,current issues.
Deleting the rest of this thread for irrelevance.
and what about he is living with his “girlfriend” not wife…? Guess, they will close both eyes on that! 🙂
hes married its fine
Expect half-empty football stadiums in Qatar, Xavi. Enjoy the heat!
I hope he has a nice big pool.
Half????? He should be so lucky.
Should he be so lucky*
What a sad, sad state of affairs. I think it’s safe to say the young men of today have their priorities straight.
Super initiative! This will be a big challenge for him (and the existing organizations) but also a very rewarding if he can help in Qatar’s football success.
A big challenge? What’s that, not dying of boredom in the Qatar league? He’s not moving here for the quality of footbakl
No he’s moving here to improve the quality of football and possibly the way things are run, hence a serious challenge I would think. Dying of boredom and joining the DN comments section are the alternatives 🙂
He’s moving to Qatar to give 2022 WC some legitmacy as the Ambassador, the football is just a sideline. He could still have played another season in Europe or gone to the emerging US League but Qatar’s needs him. Probably Pep twisted his arm…
In that case boredom awaits him.
really, going to the airport to meet him ??? why not wait till he start his practice with team to do so ?
They wanted to hand out ‘you are one of us’ leaflets to his wife.
Or a reflect your respect leaflet 😉
Or just to tell him if he doesn’t like it he should leave (but he may not be able to)
They look like more expats than locals in that crowd, I think they might have wanted to recruit him for the online cause on DN to fight slavery and support Human Rights, and ensure that he understands that there’s nothing wrong with working for the oppressors provided the pay is high enough, just make sure to voice your disagreement with their actions anonymously online afterwards, that makes it kosher.
Someone better tell him it’s Ramadan soon and he won’t be able to get a glass of Rioja with his meal, plus he will be forced to fast or hide like a criminal in secret if he wants to eat or have a glass of water
Well he came to Qatar and he has to respect the religion and traditions of this country + He is not the first non muslim player in Qatar he will manage.
expat or not , you should fellow & respect the laws of the country , ppl who would argue that have no morals .
I don’t see what morality has to do with the laws of the land. Some would argue imposing religious practise on others is immoral! Remember the Koran says no compulsion in religion
Agree with you on this one, you can send this message to the Muslims in Texas trying to change the laws of America.
Yeah but they are being oppressed in Texas but here you have to abide by the majority
The muslims in Texas have nothing to do with Qatar and its laws, or should jews blame your redneck behind for what Nazis did to their people?
I hope no one mentions Al Andalusia to him as that will bring back the Muslim conquest and oppression of his beloved home land
Come on , He is here to play football not to take history lessons and I think he already knows about the Muslim conquest in Andalusia, and since you brought the subject I really hope to bring it back 🙂
He is here to count his money.
And he does that by playing football fool.
Yes, I’m sure he is here to take history lessons rather than play football. If the Indians, pakistanis, bangladeshis, Srilankans, nigerians, Sudanese, Egyptians, Palestinians, lebanese, Filipinos, Algerians, moroccans can get along with the British, french and Americans I’m sure he will survive.
I am sure he was aware of the history of his land before he came here. Money has a way of making people overlook and “forgive”, kinda similar to how a lot of expats are staunch human rights activists online, while actively supporting those they criticize by providing their services for a fee when offline.
Deleting for irrelevance.
Hide like a criminal in secret? Why do you have to over dramatize things? He can eat his Paella on his dining table and then visit the great Qatari outdoors! Or does he have to be munching away while on foot?
Do you believe drinking from a water bottle in public should be a crime?
No, of course I don’t think so. But then again what is to be considered a crime is subjective, and highly correlates with ones culture and religion.
If it bothered you so much, wouldnt you have left much earlier. I’m sorry the $$$ are always important aren’t they?
No actually I like it in Qatar and have an interesting job. It’s not about the money.
However the hypocrisy here is something to behold especially as it relates to religion
The hypocrisy begins with those lamenting the slavery system here and the severe injustices inflicted upon the poor souls who are trapped by primitive laws, but then wake up every morning ready to assist those responsible for these laws in exchange for some $$$, but hey, at least they do their part fighting the injustices by posting how vehemently they are against it on DN.
Nothing like dismantling the slave trade by working for and accepting a fat check from the slave master but then criticizing him anonymously online.
Not for me. If my staff want an exit visa no problem, if they want NOC no problem. I won’t use the laws of the land to force anyone to stay who doesn’t want to work for me
Deleting again for attack. Zeit, consider yourself warned. If you can’t contribute to the discussion you will be blocked.
How MIMH Comment is relevant to the subject of the topic now ??
drinking water in public and the topic is about a player just arrived to Qatar ??
I’m new in this website and I don’t understand what is relevant and irrelevant means to you ?
please tell , I want to make sure that my comments will not be deleted again , or I should change my nickname to MIMH2 ??
the whole concept of fasting in Ramadan is to know how poor people feels when they are forced to fast because they don’t have anything to eat .. how would you feel If you drink water in front of group or whole society of poor men and says that drinking water is not a crime !!
of course it’s not but your going to feel guilty (like normal people do) !!!
ShabinaKhatri , this is relevance to the subject because I replayed MIMH comment which I suspect It is relevant because you haven’t deleted it !
Yes I feel guilty but why should I, I’ve done nothing wrong. It would be like forcing Muslims in America to have Christmas, eat turkey, pigs in blankets and glasses of mulled wine and making it the law they observe Christmas. I would like to think humanity has moved on from imposing religion on others and enforcing it by laws
this is Humanity ! to feel guilty even when you don’t do anything wrong because in some point you will think what do I going to feel If I was in their position !!
and I believe that this law for people that doesn’t have this humanity that you have.
Wow , pigs in blanket ! .. look the way I see it is if the law doesn’t make you do things that it’s forbidden in your religion then this can’t be called enforcing religion by low.
Once he has completed his medical he will be off on his holidays and probably won’t be back here until September. He probably doesn’t even need to bother attending pre season training
Since you’ve survived all this while like a parasite in Qatar, I’m sure even he will survive.
Deleting for attack.
A Barcelona legend just at the back of a treble and, the best passer of the ball in football, welcome to Qatar. See you in the mosque In shaa Allah.
I like your last sentence, but I won’t comment on it because Shabina will remove my comments for “irrelevance” 🙂
wait for it . HAHA
Thanks but I don’t even know who Shabina is? Must not be famous..
Haha she will be upset! I can see you are new here 🙂
She is the Guardian of the Temple
All hail the mighty Shabina! The DN Hawk Eye!
Deleting thread for getting off track.
I’m sure if he starts kicking a ball around in a mosque some people will complain.
In a mosque. True.
Even I would and I’m not a Muslim.
Well as long as he shouted ‘on your head’ before he passed it I would be ok with it
At least Xavi is great football player. He won everything in his carrier life. The incredible for me, is Gervinho just pass to Al jazeera football club in Abu Dhabi for 7 milion euro / season. Gervinho, player with 2 left foot. Incredible…
The look on his face: “What have I done? !!!!”
Oh Xavi, you should’ve gone to NYC.
Fortunately for him, he does possess enough talent to be sought out in places like NYC, too bad the same can’t be said for most of the foreign “talent” in Doha…
Perhaps he did not read any French newspapers since the last 5 years.