A 32-team World Cup is better: Xavi Hernandez

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Xavi puts Barca as favourites to regain the Champions League

He’s won the FIFA World Cup, the Euro Championships, the Champions League and a silver medal at the Olympics. The iconic Xavi Hernandez is now on a new mission — to provide disadvantaged children a safe space to play the beautiful sport.

Xavi — an ambassador of Generation Amazing since 2016, which is the human and social legacy programme initiated by the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy for the Qatar World Cup — was in Mumbai on Monday to kickstart the construction of a new community pitch in a corporation school.

“We are using football to help the kids. We are opening this community and I am very proud to be a part of this amazing project. Qatar isn’t just organising the World Cup, they are helping many people,” he said.

Xavi’s association began when he signed for Al Sadd in the Qatar Stars League. Having seen Qatar football from close quarters, he felt that the 2019 AFC Asian Cup win will serve as a massive boost heading into the World Cup.

“You saw how they played and won the Asian Cup. They deserved the title and now have time to prepare for the World Cup and also have the Copa America. They have a very good generation of talented young players. It all started with the Aspire Academy in 2006. They have a project, that doesn’t end in 2022, but it’s the main objective,” he said.

While FIFA is bidding to make the 2022 Qatar World Cup a 48-team affair, Xavi backed a 32-team event. “Qatar is working to host a 32 team World Cup and it will be difficult to change now. I think its more than enough to have 32 teams. It’s better for the spectators and even for the players. 48 teams will not be good, in my opinion, because it may become too long,” he said.

Commenting on Barcelona’s upcoming Champions League tie against Manchester United, he said, “From now, the Champions League will be really tough for everyone. It will be exciting to see what happens,” he said, before quickly adding, “But I think Barca is one of the favourites, of course.”

The Spaniard also keeps a close watch on the Indian Super League (ISL) owing to the strong Spanish flavour. “I saw that Bengaluru beat FC Goa yesterday. I know because Sergio Lobera is coaching Goa and Bengaluru is (coached by) Carles Cuadrat. I know Ferran Corominas and Edu Bedia and I know the Indian Super League because Delhi Dynamos has a good relation with Aspire Academy. The ISL is improving, I see,” he said.

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