Xavi Hernandez: Qatar has conditions for great World Cup
Xavi Hernandez says players will benefit from playing the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, citing the lack of travel involved in the Gulf state as a positive factor.
Xavi, 35, has ended his long association with Barcelona to join Qatari club Al-Sadd on a two-year deal, which also involves the Catalan playmaker acting as an official ambassador for the 2022 tournament.
The decision to award the finals to Qatar remains controversial for a number of widely publicised reasons, including alleged abuses of migrant labour, as well as the high temperatures and a perceived lack of footballing tradition in the region.
There have also been renewed questions about the integrity of the voting process that saw Qatar awarded the tournament since seven FIFA officials were arrested on corruption charges late last month.
However, former Spain international Xavi, who played in World Cups hosted by South Korea and Japan, Germany, South Africa and Brazil, has spoken of the benefits of playing in Qatar, including the size of the country.
"Previously we had to travel to matches the day before," Xavi said told the official 2022 World Cup website. "Here the fact that you don't have to travel long distances is an advantage."
Xavi also said that playing the tournament in the winter, along with air-conditioning technology, meant heat would not be an issue.
"I also think that playing in November and December will allow players to reach the tournament in the best possible conditions," he said. "There are also stadiums already employing air-conditioning, so I think the conditions are here to make this World Cup a great success. It will be a benefit for the football players."
The 35-year-old, who is aiming to complete his coaching and director of football qualifications while in Qatar, said both the Al-Sadd and Qatar teams tried to play the game in a similar way to Barcelona and Spain.
Asked if the teams would play "possession-style" football, Xavi said: "I think so -- that is the idea of Qatari football. They are looking to immerse themselves in the culture of Barcelona and Spain, which has had so many successes on the world stage in recent years.
"They want to compete well and to reach the World Cup in 2022 with the most competitive team possible."
Asked if he had already seen much of his new city, Xavi said he was delighted with how he had been welcomed to his new home.
"It has surprised me positively," he said. "There are things to do all the time and the people have welcomed me with a lot of passion. I can only talk marvels of this country, which has placed a big focus on sports.
"For me it is a great place to be and to develop further in the long term with the sights set on the World Cup in 2022."