BY DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR – DPA
LONDON, ENGLAND DEC 19, 2022 – 9:21 AM GMT+3
Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and FIFA President Gianni Infantino during the trophy ceremony at the Lusail Stadium, Doha, Qatar, Dec. 18, 2022. (Reuters Photo)
Gary Lineker and Pablo Zabaleta were astounded by the sight of Lionel Messi, resplendent in a sheer black robe, triumphantly hoisting the World Cup aloft.
Argentina captain Messi scored twice in the dramatic 3-3 draw with France before his side triumphed on penalties to finally win football’s ultimate prize at age 35.
At the trophy presentation, he was offered a bisht, a traditional Arab cloak, to wear by the emir of Qatar.
Messi allowed the emir to place the robe around his shoulders before taking the trophy from FIFA President Gianni Infantino and lifting it in front of his ecstatic teammates.
BBC presenter Lineker felt the decision spoiled what should have been a “magic moment.”
The former England striker said: “This is a magic moment. It seems a shame that they’ve covered up Messi in his Argentina shirt.”
Ex-Argentina defender Zabaleta agreed, saying on BBC One: “Just why? No reason to do that.”
FIFA has been asked to comment by the PA news agency.
The emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, wrote on Twitter: “I congratulate the Argentine national team for winning the Qatar World Cup 2022, and the French national team … and I thank all the teams for their outstanding play, and the fans who enthusiastically encouraged them.
“In conclusion, we have fulfilled our promise to organize an exceptional championship from the Arab countries, which provided an opportunity for the peoples of the world to learn about the richness of our culture and the originality of our values.”
Dr. Mustafa Baig, a lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, told PA that the bisht is a formal robe worn by royalty, dignitaries, grooms on their wedding day and graduates at graduation ceremonies.
“So only a select few people would wear the best,” he said.
Baig said about Messi wearing the garment: “They honored him by putting it over his shoulders.
“It’s like a mark of honor and just kind of a cultural welcoming and acceptance.”
Baig said it is also representative of Qatar’s national dress – but only on important occasions.
“And this is a top occasion. I mean, there’s probably no bigger occasion, so they put it on him as a mark of honor,” he said.
Baig said he saw it as “an embrace by Messi of the local culture,” adding that it was “a pretty cool thing” for Qatar to do and “smart thinking” on their behalf.