Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez called out for Spain-Saudi Arabia comparison

Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez is well-loved by many in Spain and by Barcelona fans, but for many, he has a black mark against his name.

Ahead of the Blaugrana’s Spanish Supercup tie in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, against Real Betis, Xavi was asked about what he thought of the competition being hosted so far away from Spain.

Xavi responded that he thought it was good for the sport, good for the clubs financially, and then went on to talk about Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s controversial human rights records. Comparing the two to Spain, he said that while they ‘have things to change and improve, that’s the same as in Spain, where we have 200 things to fix.’

This caused something of a stir back on the Iberian Peninsula. Host of leading radio station show El Larguero, Manu Carreno dedicated a monologue to his comments, criticising the comparison on Cadena SER.

“He has also compared Saudi Arabia to Spain in some way. In these types of statements, look I admire Xavi as a footballer and also outside of football because he seems like a guy with a lot of common sense when he talks about things that aren’t football, but yes, what he said about Qatar or Saudi Arabia, he is being ridiculous with what he has said today, well, that there are many things to improve and to change in Saudi Arabia and also in Spain.”

“Look, Xavi, here at the moment no one is hanged for going to a demonstration, nor are 40 people sentenced to death or killed at dawn for having participated in riots. Let’s stop talking such guff. Precisely Xavi, who has a responsibility, who has an image, who is a guy with prestige, you cannot be justifying every time that you were working in Qatar and collecting money from Qatar, but for that motive we cannot be saying all the time that there are things have to be changed in Saudi Arabia, just as they have to be changed in Spain. I think we have to be a little more serious.”

Meanwhile journalist Albert Ortega also pointed out that there were vast differences between the countries in terms of freedom and justice.

“Saudi Arabia executed 81 people in a single day and sentenced a woman to 34 years in prison for tweeting against the regime. Women are discriminated against in marriage, inheritance and child custody. Atheism and homosexuality are crimes. But yes, like Spain.”

“Why does Xavi continue to speak well of Qatar? It is very simple. It is the same country that filled his pockets in exchange for being the first World Cup ambassador (and laundering it) when he arrived as a player and coach of Al-Sadd. The one who, coincidentally, made him win the lottery in 2017.”

Xavi has consistently defended Qatar, where he spent six years as a player and manager, from criticism over human rights and their system of governance.

As Ortega mentions, the illegality of homosexuality is one of those obvious differences, but also places him in opposition to his employer. Barcelona used the rainbow motif to support LGBTQIA+ rights online this year, and have consistently defended equal rights for women.

Tags Barcelona Saudi Arabia Spanish Supercup Xavi Hernandez
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