Trying to understand how Xavi ended up winning the lottery in Qatar

In Depth

Since 2015, Xavi has been playing for Al Sadd in Qatar. His best moment so far? Winning the lottery in ripped denim shorts.

Xavier Hernández Creus, better known as Xavi, has had a good career. Playing for one of the best international sides of recent years and one of the best domestic sides ever, he has won a World Cup, two European Championships and four Champions League trophies.

He has also won the Sheikh Jassim Cup.

Yes, after winning a domestic treble in his final season at Barcelona, Xavi travelled East to join Al Sadd, a Qatari club whose former players include Raúl — another legend of El Clásico — and Iranian superstar Ali Daei.

Xavi might be the only big name at Al Sadd these days, but other notable players in the Qatari Stars League include Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder and 35-year-old former Portsmouth winger Nadir Belhadj. It’s not La Liga, but it’s not Sunday league.

Unfortunately, Al Sadd are yet to win the league under Xavi’s captaincy. And with retirement looming at the end of the season, the former Barcelona legend may ultimately fail to deliver Stars League glory to the club known by locals as ‘Al Zaeem’ — literally ‘the boss’.

Xavi’s time in Qatar, however, can never be considered a failure.

On August 27, 2017, Doha Bank announced that Xavi had won the Al Dana Savings Scheme prize — a kind of private lottery — for the month of June, taking home one million Qatari riyals.

It would be fair to say the announcement surprised many. Some were amused; some cried foul. All thought “yes, that seems quite Qatar”.

To announce the news, Doha Bank posted a photo of the occasion.

The photo shows Xavi, outfitted in ripped denim jeans, looking happy to collect his giant cheque at Doha Bank’s Mall of Qatar branch.

But there are imperfections in the scene too: Xavi’s name, for example, is the only text on the oversized document written in Papyrus-like lettering, while the ‘1,000,000’ has been carelessly printed on a diagonal slant.

Xavi’s statement is also a source of genuine intrigue.

It starts innocuously enough: “Winning the QAR 1 million cash prize was an unexpected but welcome surprise.”

Sure, welcome surprises are good. You can relate to how Xavi is feeling.

“I had taken interest in the Al Dana program,” he continues, “after hearing about how Doha Bank encourages their customers to save money, and get a chance to become Millionaires, as well as the opportunity to win other cash prizes.”

Helping out a brother?

This is where questions start to arise, because you can interpret that part of the statement in two ways.

Under one interpretation, Xavi wanted to join Doha Bank’s Al Dana program because he respected its efforts to give the average customer a chance to save money, get a chance to become a capital-M Millionaire and win other cash prizes. He wanted to join the scheme because it was doing good things for the average Joes of Doha.

I like this interpretation a lot, but I don’t know how feasible it is. People generally don’t make their banking decisions based on how certain details — things like interest rates and overdraft fees — will affect other people.

Or chasing the dollar?

With that in mind, you might interpret the statement in another way: Xavi was interesting in joining Doha Bank’s Al Dana program because he himself wanted to save money, get a chance to become a Millionaire and win other cash prizes.

But that’s also a hard one to explain. According to CelebrityNetWorth, a popular and influential celebrity finance website, Xavi is worth around £28million.

Of course, that doesn’t preclude the possibility of Xavi wanting another one million Qatari riyals. In fact, he confirms as much in the next line: “I started to invest with the Al Dana Savings program, aiming to win the QAR 1 Million.”

But from a purely logical standpoint, his personal wealth meant he couldn’t have aspired to become a Millionaire. By even the most conservative of estimates, he already was one.

A classic mix-up?

So what could it all mean?

It’s possible that Xavi, a busy man no doubt, simply isn’t familiar with the typical Euro to Qatari riyal exchange rate. After all, when you’re captain of a Qatari Stars League side and you have a family, you don’t want to be constantly going on to see if your salary this month is the same as what you were getting in Spain.

It’s therefore totally possible that, when setting up his Doha Bank account, Xavi thought he wasn’t yet a Millionaire in the Qatari currency.

It sounds crazy, but current and former Barcelona players — trained as they are to think about nothing but passing triangles — often get their finances wrong, sometimes by pretty extreme amounts.

It’s a mystery that may never be solved, but the lottery at least seemed to brighten up Xavi’s day, if not as much as it did mine.

“Today, I can say that I’m happy that I opened an Al Dana Savings account and invested my savings,” he concludes. “I would like to thank Doha Bank for this opportunity and I wish the same luck unto the other Al Dana customers in the future.”

We’re glad you’re happy, Xavi. And with your last Qatari Stars League season wrapping up soon, good luck unto you too.

By Benedict O’Neill

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