Lionel Messi was bestowed the highest of honors when he was gifted a black garment called the ‘bisht’ cloak as he carried the World Cup trophy.
Stories have been headlined as “…Messi ‘hijacked’ by being made to wear traditional bisht cloak at World Cup” or framed the gesture as an “attempt at stealing the players’ spotlight’. The Independent published “Messi lifting the World Cup was the worst moment in football history” and claimed that it was an agenda “of pure malignance a decade or more in the making.” They went on to explain how a moment so beautiful was made “ugly” because the Emir of Qatar compelled Messi in the final moments to wear the cloak and “impose itself on the champions.”
People responded on The Independent’s comments section, calling its reaction “sour grapes” and others going on to explain how “gifting something from one’s culture is a sign of utmost respect. It never means that you’re claiming ownership of them or making them look more pleasing to you. You are giving something from your house, meaning that you love them like family.”
Bisht, derived from the Akkadian word ‘bishtu’, translates to ‘prestige’ synonymous to ceremonial robes worn upon achievement, a sign of nobility and social rank.
Key cultural context has been mired instead with a term called “sportwashing,” or the idea that Qatar has been conspiring to mark its stamp on the tournament for over a decade.
Despite the criticism, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is described as one of the “best ever” hosted in an Arab nation that stayed true to its Islamic values despite the onslaught of Islamophobia and fiercely orientalist themed narratives.
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