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Messi wearing traditional Arab robe during World Cup trophy presentation garners mixed reactions

WCup Argentina France Soccer
Posted at 2:00 PM, Dec 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-19 14:00:32-05

Argentina's Lionel Messi is sitting on top of the world as his national team won the World Cup in Qatar on Sunday.

But images of him draped in a traditional Arab robe over his blue-and-white team jersey after the match garnered mixed reactions.

Following Argentina's win over France in a 4-2 penalty shootout, Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, draped a bisht, a ceremonial Arab robe, over Messi’s shoulders during the trophy presentation, CNN, Sports Illustrated and The Guardian reported.

According to the media outlets, the cloak is traditionally worn on special occasions and events.

Messi is seen wearing it as he celebrated the team's third World Cup title and hoisted the trophy into the air, then shortly thereafter, he removed it, the news outlets reported.

For some, they praised the gesture, while others weren't too keen on the idea.

“Seems a shame in a way that they’ve covered up Messi in his Argentina shirt,” said BBC host Gary Lineker during the network's live coverage of the final, CNN reported.

According to CNN and The Guardian, the moment renewed complaints of Qatar trying to attempt "sportswashing," a term to describe a country attempting to use sports to improve its reputation.

“Something a little strange about Messi being dressed in Bisht, that black cloak that the emir of Qatar dressed him in before lifting the World Cup,” New York Times journalist Tariq Panja said in a tweet, CNN reported.

Messi later removed the bisht and was later seen celebrating in a team shirt, the outlets reported.