Dec. 23, 2022

Uproar over Qatar’s gift of Arab cloak to Messi sparks ‘racism’ claims

Peninsula/Society

The story: Controversy has erupted over Qatar's Emir’s gifting of a traditional Arab cloak to the captain of the Argentinian football team, Lionel Messi. The gesture—made during the trophy presentation at the FIFA World Cup final—has led some western commentators to criticize the timing. Meanwhile, several Arab observers have dismissed the condemnations as racist. The controversy highlights the tensions over Qatar’s hosting of the tournament. 

The coverage: Western media outlets have reported that the Emir’s gifting of a “bisht” to Messi at the ceremony after Argentina’s victory over France in the World Cup final on Dec. 18 had sparked accusations that Qatar “hijacked” the occasion. 

  • Laurie Whitwell, a journalist with US-owned The Athletic, regarded the move as “grossly indulgent,” charging that “Qatar obviously wanted to be present in the World Cup trophy pictures.” 
  • In a since deleted tweet, Mark Ogden—a journalist with US-based ESPN—wrote that the award ceremony pictures were ruined by Messi being made...

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