Lionel Messi: Why did icon wear a robe before lifting World Cup with Argentina in Qatar? | Football | Sport


Lionel Messi’s World Cup trophy lift raised eyebrows after he donned a black robe given to him by the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani ahead of the ceremony. The move did not go down well with many onlookers including BBC host Gary Lineker, who was unhappy that the famous blue and white strips of Argentina had been covered up for the historic moment. Here Express Sport explains the meaning behind the gesture. 

The robe given to Messi is known as a bisht and a traditional item of men’s clothing worn for special occasions and ceremonies such as weddings. It is trimmed in gold and often also worn by clergy and other officials. 

It was handed to Messi by the Emir of Qatar as a sign of respect for what he had achieved at the World Cup and in football as a whole. Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of Qatar’s tournament organising committee gave more details as to why the bisht was offered. 

“It is a dress for an official occasion and worn for celebrations,” he told BBC Sport. “This was a celebration of Messi. The World Cup had the opportunity to showcase to the world our Arab and Muslim culture. This was not about Qatar, it was a regional celebration.

“People from different walks of life were able to come, experience what was happening here and get to understand that we may not see eye to eye on everything, but we can still celebrate together.”

READ MORE: Messi issued expletive message to Argentina fans when given mic

Former Argentina international Pablo Zabaleta was more scathing in his attack. “Just why?” he queried. “Why? No reason to do that.”

The move to bestow the bisht on Messi is likely to continue to divide opinion but it will be fondly remembered in Qatar as they highlighted Arabic culture on the world stage. 

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