Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2022 will offer many advantages for players and fans, according to Spanish football legend Xavi Hernandez.
The former midfield maestro, who lifted the World Cup with Spain in 2010, was speaking to www.qatar2022.qa ahead of the FIFA Club World Cup final between Tigres UANL and FC Bayern München, which will take place at Qatar’s Education City Stadium on Thursday night (kick-off 21:00 local time).
The current Al Sadd SC head coach, who has lived in Qatar for more than five years, said the country is well prepared to host the next edition of global football’s showpiece event. Xavi also believes the timing of the tournament – from 21 November to 18 December 2022 – means the majority of players will be in the best possible shape to produce outstanding performances on the field.
“I think [the timing of the tournament] is a big advantage – for players and fans,” said Xavi. “World Cups have historically been at the end of the season for most players – when they are tired both mentally and physically. In 2022, they will be in the best possible shape – and that’s a plus for everyone.”
Xavi continued: “Another point is that Qatar is a small country, so players will hardly need to travel. They will stay in the same hotel throughout the tournament. It won’t be like previous events – which I think is a big advantage for players and – of course – the fans as well.”
Qatar’s compact nature means fans will be able to attend more than one match per day during the early stages of the tournament as the longest distance between stadiums is just 75km.
Xavi said: “You will be able to watch two matches on the same day – which means we will have a historic World Cup. I have no doubt that people are going to be pleasantly surprised when they arrive in Qatar and experience what the country has to offer.”
Looking forward to Thursday’s Club World Cup final, Xavi has the German giants down as firm favourites against Tigres, who are the first CONCACAF Champions League winners to reach the showpiece match.
Xavi said: “I would say it was a half-surprise to see Tigres beat Palmeiras – but of course anything can happen in football. Looking to the final, Bayern are the favourites. I actually consider them to be the best team in the world right now. They have won all the titles and will be looking to make it six trophies tomorrow night. But Tigres will go into the game with a positive attitude and they have nothing to lose in the final. It will be interesting to see what happens.”
Xavi also said he was pleased to see a limited number of fans attending matches during the Club World Cup, in line with Qatar’s Covid-19 protocols. Anyone attending tournament venues has been required to return a negative Covid-19 test, show evidence of taking the vaccine or prove they contracted and recovered from the virus in recent months.
“Qatar is doing well in relation to the Covid-19 situation. We don’t have a high number of cases and football is being played here with fans. The country is building up towards the World Cup.”
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