Xavi talking about Muslim players, and respect from Barca
- Question: Keita once told us he always performs his prayers, sometimes even in the locker room without it ever upsetting anyone. How do you react to that?
- Xavi: That is part of the kind of respect for other cultures that was instilled in us by Barça since we were kids. Seydou prays everywhere and it never bothers anyone. Sometimes he asks for a room to pray, and they provide it for him to make him comfortable. In the Barça dressing room, Seydou is highly respected, and that goes the same for Abidal and Afellay as well. They are not just three Muslims, but three wonderful people too.
- Question: Were you never curious in wanting to know the kind of prayers they recite before a game? And why they respect the month of Ramadhan [the month of fasting], and whether it affects their performance?
- Xavi: What aroused my curiosity the most is their respect for Ramadhan. To me, the fact that they are not eating for 12 hours, sometimes even up to 15 hours in the summer, must be very hard on a football player. But it is their belief, and that of all Muslims, and we must respect that.We, too, have our own way of practicing our religion, but that has never prevented us from having a very good bond with Keita, Abidal and Afellay, for what unites us, first of all, is Barça and football. In Barcelona, there is and always will be players from every culture, and they will all feel welcome because our club is universal. And it is all down to the respect they instil in us from our youth.
- Question: Were Keita, Abidal and Afellay ever given some leeway in trainings to accommodate their fasting during Ramadan?
- Xavi: I wouldn’t call it leeway, but I’m surprised that they can train without drinking water and I tell them that. I tell them they must really be out of energy. I guess they are used to it and perhaps this is the reason why they are able to take it.