By Armstrong Vaz
Doha (Qatar), Dec 19 (IANS): The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani placing a black and gold bisht -- a traditional item of clothing worn in the region for special events and celebrations -- on the Argentina captain before the 35-year-old was handed the FIFA World Cup trophy has created quite a storm of anger.
The World Cup trophy presentation moment has been the most trending topic with social media users expressing the pride and joy they felt seeing the moment.
Messi allowed the Emir to place the robe around his shoulders before taking the trophy from FIFA president Gianni Infantino
In his new attire, which covered his national pale blue and white jersey, Messi danced towards his teammates before lifting the trophy above his head, after beating France 4-3 via penalties on Sunday. With both teams tied three-all at the end of the extra time, the tie-breaker system was applied.
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 in a way 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."
According to content creator Tallie Dar, who wrote on Twitter: "Messi's black cloak is called a 'Bisht'. Arabian warriors wore it after a victory.
"It's also worn by the royal family. The king of Qatar honoured Messi as a sign of respect. Signifying Messi as a warrior, who won for his country Argentina."
Dar added: "Messi is being honoured as royalty in his Argentinian shirt, as the King of Football."
The Emir, Sheikh Tamim, 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 wonderful play, and the fans who enthusiastically encouraged them.
"In conclusion, we have fulfilled our promise to organise 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, while speaking to DPA said 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 actually wear the bisht.
"They basically honoured him by putting it over his shoulders. It's like a mark of honour, and just kind of a cultural welcoming and a cultural acceptance."
"And this is a top occasion. I mean, there's probably no bigger occasion, so they put it on him as a mark of honour and an embrace by Messi of the local culture and a pretty cool thing and smart thinking," Baig said.
Messi didn't wear the item of clothing for long, taking it off shortly after the trophy presentation and celebrating with his teammates in Argentina's distinctive jersey.
Amid the criticism, Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), an organisation charged with organising the World Cup, explained some facts about the bisht.
"It is a dress for an official occasion and worn for celebrations. This was a celebration of Messi," Al Thawadi told BBC Sport.
"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."