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Monday, March 8, 2021

Xavi leads team to victory in Qatar debut, but few around to cheer him on

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Xavi
Xavi

Spanish football legend Xavi Hernandez made his debut for his new team Al Sadd last night, helping secure a 4-0 win against Mesaimeer, though few spectators were present to witness it.

The former FC Barcelona captain, who is known simply as Xavi, joined the Qatar Stars League team earlier this summer in a joint player-coach capacity.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Yesterday’s match was the first time the midfielder has played for a team other than Barcelona.

Playing in the No. 6 black and white shirt, Xavi started Al Sadd off well, assisting defender Jung Soo Lee to score the first goal in the 11th minute.

Brazilian striker Muriqui then performed a hat trick, with the last goal in the 87th minute, leading Al Sadd to a final victory over Mesaimeer.

This was the first time Mesaimeer had played in the QSL, after getting promoted last season from the Qatargas League.

Poor attendance

Xavi was mobbed by fans when he first arrived to Qatar in June, but the fanfare for the international player did not carry over to the ground last night.

Xavi arriving in Qatar in June 2015
Xavi arriving in Qatar in June 2015

Official attendance at the game was 2,253, according to a sign board inside the 13,000-seater Grand Hamad stadium, home of Al Arabi Sports Club.

However, spectators there said the actual number of fans who turned up to watch the Spanish superstar seemed more like 500 to 1,000 people.

A Vine clip, posted online by Qatar-based football fan Graham, showed a near-empty stadium.

The clip quickly went viral, recording 160,000 views since yesterday evening.

It would appear that Mesaimeer in particular struggled to garner support, with just a few dozen of its fans sitting in white shirts and strategically spaced out on the bleachers.

The spectators had half a dozen drums that created a bit more of an atmosphere in the stadium, and chanting from both teams’ fans could also be heard in the background.

However, entire sections of the rest of the stadium were completely empty of spectators.

Some fans speculated that one reason for the low turnout was the 6pm kick-off, which makes it difficult for people who are still working to attend. Additionally, that’s a time when traffic is heavy due to the evening rush.

Encouraging support

Despite signing high-profile players, Qatar has long had problems getting fans to turn up for sports matches and games.

According to a government survey conducted in 2013, two-thirds of Qatar residents hadn’t attended a football match here in the previous season. The main reasons included bad weather, awkward match times and traffic congestion.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Late last year, Associated Press reporters who attended an international beach volleyball event described the practice of “fake fans,” saying hundreds of men had squeezed onto buses after being promised around QR20 ($5.50) for their participation at the event.

As Qatar is preparing to host numerous international sporting tournaments in the coming years, including the World Athletics Championships in 2019 and the World Cup in 2022, authorities have been working to encourage a culture of attending live events.

For example, organizers of the Men’s Handball World Championships, which took place in Qatar early this year, eventually filled the arenas after booking global music icons such as Kylie Minogue, Taio CruzPharrell Williams and Gwen Stefani, who performed after key matches.

Have you been to a football match here? Thoughts?

47 COMMENTS

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Ali
Ali
5 years ago

This is really unbelievable, but DN how will people go for the game at 10 pm and people want to go to work and children to school the next day!?

WTF
WTF
5 years ago
Reply to  Ali

And now that Qataris are forced to go to work by the Government, they have to wake up early in the morning, so nobody will go.

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  WTF

people go to work / schools because they have responsibilities , its what being /becoming an adult is all about.

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  qatari

WE know that.

MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  Ali

I don’t mind. I don’t have children and my boss knows I have a drinking problem. I just keep my White Privilege card at hand.

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  Ali

The game was at 6pm i think the article said.

Ali
Ali
5 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

It doesn’t make any difference, you will be wasting 4 hours, 2 on traffic, going and coming back, and two in the stadium, and for what, for a football game, who cares!

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  Ali

Sure it makes a difference. The game was at 6 not 10.

mamba9
mamba9
5 years ago

Maybe they need to make it easier for people to go to these games. I’ve had one or 2 experiences where I tried to go to matches (1 football friendly, 1 handball) and wasn’t allowed in because they had stopped allowing people into the stadium before the match started (we had arrived 15 mins before it was going to start) and because the stadium was already full! (we had legit tickets). Of course I understand that it is a work in progress for Qatar in a lot of these cases and most of these are test runs for the World Cup but come on, it shouldn’t be that hard to get it right.

SullyofDoha
SullyofDoha
5 years ago
Reply to  mamba9

You are being too kind. Some of the earlier events were fiascos that showed the public face of incompetence. I demonstrate my incompetence by purchasing 10 riyal plants and slowly watching them die from too much or too little watering, others host sporting events…

qatari
qatari
5 years ago

not a big fan of ALSADD team . LOOOL

Ali
Ali
5 years ago

So now how are they going to pay Xavi?!

WTF
WTF
5 years ago
Reply to  Ali

It will be cash 🙂

MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  WTF

Will it be in Euros? Don’t want the guy having to go to Al Zaman exchange with all that money.

WTF
WTF
5 years ago

Xabi is not here for the cheers, it is the easy money in a lousy local league, if you want fans, send them Tata buses to the Industrial Area and offer free food to the “fans”, they’ll come and cheer for whoever you tell them to.

Bee
Bee
5 years ago

I’ve been to a few matches here and they’ve been packed. This is only the first week of the season right? And I didn’t see you guys promote this match.

Also, I find it a bit weird that you didn’t even go to the match you’re reporting on and you’re complaining no one went! Only in Doha eh

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  Bee

I’ve been to several and hardly anyone there and that was Saad SC. Packed? doubt it.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
5 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

I’ve only been to about 3 matches in 5 years, and none of them had anywhere near as many spectators as the match in the video. I guess I’ve been going to the freakishly poorly attended matches.

Raul did warn Xavi back in April:

“I got used to playing at half-empty stadiums at Al Sadd. There was no one in the stands in Qatar. The atmosphere in New York made me all of a sudden feel like I was back at the Santiago Bernabeu.”

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

No that’s business as usual. And half empty is pretty optimistic.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago

“Brazilian striker Muriqui then performed a hat trick”

LOL. Written by someone with no idea about football…..

WTF
WTF
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

They know a whole lot about deleting posts for allegedly being off topic, that’s what counts here.

MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  WTF

It’s only off-topic when you start talking about anything but the article. I clearly quoted the article so it’s on-topic. Let there be no confusion, a hat trick is:
– three successes of the same kind, especially consecutive ones within a limited period.

“the band completes the trilogy, making for a dubious musical hat trick”
– (chiefly in ice hockey or soccer) the scoring of three goals in a game by one player.
noun: hat-trick; plural noun: hat-tricks

Whereas in the article, the score is 4-0. Clearly, he scored more than three goals, so not a hat trick anymore.

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

He assisted on the 1st goal thus the hat trick stands.

Pete
Pete
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

The Brazilian scored 3 of the 4 goals..that is a hat trick.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

If you are going to pretend to be me, at least be smart and get it right.

The term originally comes from cricket

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I performed a triple salchow once. pulled a groin. career over.

Pulled a rabbit out of a hat once too.

onthefence
onthefence
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Closely followed by a card trick, then a rope trick and at the final whistle a disappearing act …. bravo…encore

tallg
tallg
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Epic fail MIMH.

Muriqui scored 3 goals. Hence he performed a hat trick.

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  tallg

You don’t “perform” a hat trick.

tallg
tallg
5 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

The language may not be conventional football speak, but technically it’s still correct.

Plus MIMH completely misunderstood and thought he scored 4 goals – see his comment below.

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  tallg

Yeah I know he was wrong on the goals but that is not correct language to use in describing the feat which was his point. You “perform” a singular event. You accomplish the others. So no “epic fail”.

tallg
tallg
5 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Maybe that was his point then. I read his defence below and thought otherwise.

Anyway, that’s probably enough words wasted discussing an anonymous internet commenter’s views on a minor internet article about a poorly attended football match.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

I have a stalker…..

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  tallg

That’s not me. That’s someone pretending to be me, to try and smear my name

tallg
tallg
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

All the posts/comments from MIMH go to the same profile page, so if it’s really not you I suggest you change your password, cos the only way someone else could post as you using your profile is if they can log in as you.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  tallg

No it’s a separate account just mimicking mine

tallg
tallg
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

No because clicking on it still goes to you.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  tallg

Nope you are not looking closely enough. Anyway, I’ve changed my profile pick again, they will find it hard to copy this one.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  tallg

You score a hat trick, not perform one unless you are pulling rabbits out of it.

The way it is written sounds stupid in English

Ben
Ben
5 years ago

Non existent marketing or advertisement for the league here means that 90% of football fans in this country have no idea when and where these games are.

They make a half decent effort advertising the Emir cup each year but they should be doing the same for the leagues games.

Yes the standard is pants however it’s the only chance to see live football so there are many ways to encourage more fans to attend. Clubs around the rest of the world need fans to operate and be successful, it’s the complete opposite here

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago

6 people in the stands and deserving of the WC. Only FIFA and Qatar could conjure up this mess.

I’m from a city half the size of Doha and have a 2nd division team that averages 15k fans a game. In the USA

Ahmed El Fadel
Ahmed El Fadel
5 years ago

I believe it’s down to bad marketing. Xavi is a modern football legend (Coming from a Real Madrid fan), he’s the player who captined Barcelona to the treble just last year. With moderate marketing and better timing that stadium could have been half full.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  Ahmed El Fadel

Pele is a football legend but I wouldn’t want to watch him in the QSL. Football fans are not stupid, well except those from France….

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

lol

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Deleting for stereotyping.

Whatever
Whatever
5 years ago

I went to a pre season friendly which was attended by about 50 spectators and 20 VIP’s (in an a/c climate controlled box). I was in the open air at about 43c and 60% humidity. There were no concession stands open, so no drinks or snacks available. Suffice to say I wont be attending anymore football matches in this country.

EuropaPointFC
5 years ago

Doha + Gibraltar make best for young talented players

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