Former Real Madrid and Malaga defender, Fernando Sanz visited Doha in April to attend the LFP-Aspire U-15 Challenge, a junior tournament that was hosted by Aspire Academy and saw the participation of 10 Spanish clubs alongside two teams from Qatar.

Sanz, who also served as Malaga president for four years, is now the General Director of La Liga’s Middle East and North Africa office, which is based in Dubai, with the main aim of promoting Spanish football to a wider global audience and generating interest from potential investors.

In an interview with Doha-based reporter Anna Lidster, the former UEFA Champions League winner talked about football in Qatar, the 2022 World Cup, La Liga, Real Madrid, Gareth Bale and more,

Here are the best bits.

For the Russian language interview published in “Sport Den Za Dnem” news paper please follow this link

Would you agree that the influence of Qatar is growing on the global football stage?

“We had the opportunity to come here and see how the level of football is changing in Qatar. The venues and the facilities are fantastic. In addition, you can see how competitive these young players have become. It is clear that the level of football here is consistently improving and there is no question that they are becoming really competitive on the global stage.”

In your opinion, can Qatar host a successful world cup in 2022?

“Qatar is capable of hosting a good World cup. Absolutely no question about it. The world of
football means very qualified speakers, persons at federations and persons at leagues. Qatar has come, has checked all the boxes and proved how professional they are. The country has all the necessary resources to make a Word cup happen, to make it successful. We are publicly supporting Qatar in many ways and we have no doubt that it is going to be a great World cup.”

Does La Liga’s dominance by Barcelona and Real Madrid has bad effect on the popularity of other La Liga clubs?

“One of the reasons why La Liga has decided to open an office in Dubai is to leverage and enhance popularity of all La Liga clubs. Of course we are conscious about the level of popularity: “Real” Madrid and “Barcelona” have are way ahead of the other teams, they are extremely popular in the world. One of our main tasks is to increase the popularity of other clubs as well. There is a lot of work to do.”

How La Liga deals with UEFA’s Financial Fair play regulations?

“We are really sensitive on this matter. I am glad to say that La Liga is a pioneer – the first European league that has created a separate department for financial monitoring of the league. The department is checking financial situation of all our clubs. We agree that modern football has to be sustainable and we should work to improve and balance the league. In the past the finance of the league was a real headache, but now the situation is under control.”

Last summer, Real Madrid paid a crazy amount of money to buy Gareth Bale. What is your personal opinion on that transfer?

“La Liga is always pleased to host best players in the world. Gareth Bale is one of those players. “Real” Madrid is in excellent financial shape. They definitely have potential to do any sort of investments. It’s excellent news for the liga. A Club like “Real” Madrid are pretty conscious about the development in turns of business investments, and I think Bale is a good investment not only because of attendance, but also because of the increasing value of TV rights and marketing opportunities. “Real” can afford anything they like and its also based on having the best players on the pitch.”

The World Cup in Brazil is a few weeks away. Who are your favorites to win it?

“There is no secret – its going to be Spain, Spain and Spain. It can’t be different for me.”