Why did Lionel Messi wear a black robe? What Qatar robes mean, why Argentina ace wore one after World Cup win

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Lionel Messi won the golden ball after his outstanding display at Qatar 2022

Argentina ended their 36 year wait for a World Cup title after a thrilling penalty shoot-out victory over 2018 winners France.

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The victory elevates Messi’s career into new heights and he has now won every accolade there is to achieve in the game. The 35-year-old signed off his final World Cup campaign in style, scoring seven and assisting three over the course of the tournament to win the Golden Ball.

The celebrations marked the dream end to Messi’s World Cup career but as he made his way up to collect the trophy he was given a black robe by the Emir of Qatar. Messi was then handed the trophy and worked over to his teammates to celebrate one of the most iconic moments of their careers.

Here is everything you need to know.

Why did Lionel Messi wear a black robe?

Lionel Messi was presented with the World Cup trophy by FIFA president Gianni Infantiono and Tamim bin Hamada Al Thani, the Emir of host nation Qatar.

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The Emir of Qatar presented the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner with a semi see-through black robe, trimmed in gold, which the Argentina captain would then wear for the official trophy presentation.

Lionel Messi of Argentina is presented with a traditional robe by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar. (Getty Images)Lionel Messi of Argentina is presented with a traditional robe by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar. (Getty Images)
Lionel Messi of Argentina is presented with a traditional robe by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

The robe is known as a bisht and it is a traditional item of male clothing in the Arab world, which is usually worn on special occasions including ceremonies and weddings.

The bisht is usually worn by royalty and senior religious figures and was seen as a mark of respect for Messi as arguably the greatest footballer of the current era.

How did football pundits react?

The Qatar World Cup has attracted a great deal of controversy due to debates over human rights and corruption and Messi’s decision to wear the bisht has drawn criticism from several football pundits.

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Match of the Day and BBC football presenter Gary Lineker said during the celebrations: “Amazing scenes, great pictures from above and great pictures from inside the ground as Argentina win the World Cup for a third time. It seems a shame, in a way, that they’ve covered up Messi in his Argentina shirt.”

Alan Shearer and Lineker joked about the way Messi was forced to wear the item of clothing. Shearer said: “I didn’t think Infantino was going to let him go either.”

While Lineker added: “Nobody marked him that tightly during the game.”

How did people react on social media?

Lionel Messi’s decision to wear the bisht during their World Cup celebrations has also caused a stir on social media.

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Laurie Whitwell of The Athletic tweeted: “Qatar obviously wanted to be present in the World Cup trophy pictures, hence putting that black bisht on Messi.

“But just made for a weird, unnecessary look amid a sea of blue + white sporting shirts. It should be a moment for the players, not the host. Grossly indulgent.”

However, other journalists have been more supportive of the decision to wear the bisht and have claimed that it was a nice touch and part of Arab culture.

Zach Lowry of Breaking The Lines tweeted: “I’m probably in the minority here but I thought Lionel Messi wearing a bisht was a nice touch. Bishts are given to Arab warriors after a victory in battle or to royalty… Messi just won the greatest battle of them all and confirmed himself as the king of football.”

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Lowry added: “I did think it was bizarre at first but the more I learned about it, the more it makes sense. This isn’t sportswashing- it’s simply appreciating a different culture. Educate yourself and don’t let yourself rush to judgement.”

Lowry also went on to compare the situation to the 1970 World Cup where Pele was pictured wearing a sombrero and joked: “sportwashing at its finest.”

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