On Monday, Xavi Hernández was introduced as the new head coach of FC Barcelona in front of a few thousand fans at the Nou Camp. The enthusiasm that met the 41-year-old returnees at times took on almost religious traits. The ten-part catalog of behavior with which the new sporty boss at Barça is setting out the terrain also fits in with this.
Just as Moses once conveyed the Ten Commandments received from Yahweh on Mount Sinai to his Jewish people, Xavi has now drawn up his own personal Decalogue in order to get his followers out of exile in sports.
With this framework of standards, Xavi wants to breathe more discipline and performance-oriented thinking and action into his team. Specifically, Xavi’s demands are as follows:
While in the past few years there was a lead time of just half an hour (sometimes even less!) Compared to the start of training, Xavi now requires his players to show up at the training center one and a half hours (90 minutes) beforehand.
If the rule now applies for the kicking staff to appear one and a half hours before training, this lead time for the team behind the team is extended by another half an hour.
So far, there has been a certain degree of freedom in this regard, as it was left to the players to dine together with their teammates or individually. From this Tuesday it is now binding that all players of the professional squad eat together in the Ciutat Deportiva. Both the second breakfast and the actual lunch.
Aside from the team-building component, the club also wants to gain control over what the players ingest. This aspect (of eating right or wrong) is too important to be left to the players’ discretion. It is not for nothing that many injuries to the stars (eg with Ousmane Dembélé) are attributed to their sometimes rather unprofessional eating habits.
In the end, every norm is as strong as the accompanying sanctions in the event of non-compliance. Accordingly, it is not surprising that a new catalog of penalties is being drawn up. With one of Xavi’s predecessors, Luis Enrique, this aspect had taken a back seat. The motto of the current Spanish national coach was that the players were professional enough to be able to regulate themselves.
From his own practical experience, however, Xavi knows that while self-control is desirable, it is quickly undermined in practice. For example, coach Frank Rijkaard had a certain laxity in this regard, which was only broken by the arrival of Pep Guardiola. With resounding success, as we know today.
Specifically, the new catalog of penalties envisages exponential growth. In practice this means: after the first slight misconduct (e.g. late arrival for training) the player concerned would be fined 100 euros.
In the case of repetition, the sum would increase to 200 euros. And the third time, as much as 400 euros would be due.
Xavi’s measures also have an effect beyond the training center – and into the private lives of the stars. From now on, 48 hours before each competitive game, all players go to bed no later than twelve o’clock in the morning.
So-called hereditary farms will also no longer exist under Xavi. The players who have offered themselves the most in the respective training units play. Big names or past achievements are irrelevant for the coach’s consideration.
What the players do outside of their physical condition as professional footballers is basically up to them. However, if these activities in any way (in terms of time or quality) directly affect the form or availability of the player, the club can prohibit the players from doing so. During the season, for example, the kickers are not allowed to undertake long private air travel without the consent or approval of the club.
As a kind of sub-norm of the previous one, as in every professional soccer team, all so-called high-risk sports (such as skiing) are forbidden for the players. This is generally intended to reduce the risk of injury, which is already high enough in football itself.
Violations would be considered a serious breach of contract – and could be punished with far more serious penalties than a mere fine.
The players are the face (or figurehead) of every football club. Accordingly, the Barça stars are also expected to behave appropriately in public spaces and fulfill their role model function. This includes both an empathic behavior towards the fans (own as well as opposing ones) as well as the absolute prohibition of morally (or even legally) questionable activities.
Most of these norms are, of course, anything but surprising – and, with possible deviations in detail, prevail in almost every professional football club.