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19th Dec 2022

Gary Lineker slams FIFA for making Lionel Messi wear ‘little robe’

Steve Hopkins

‘He’s taken his little robe off now’

Gary Lineker questioned FIFA’s decision to make Lionel Messi wear a black bisht – a traditional men’s cloak in the Arab world – during the World Cup trophy presentation.

Following a dramatic penalty shootout victory on Sunday, ending Messi’s personal quest to secure the trophy that has evaded him for so long, the Argentinian captain was encouraged to put on a Qatari bisht much to the annoyance of Lineker, who dubbed it “his little robe”, Metro reported.

“Great pictures from above and great pictures from inside the ground as Argentina win the world cup for the third time and first since 1986 they also of course won it in 1978 in their own country,” said the BBC presenter.

“This is a magic moment it’s a shame in a way they’ve covered up Messi in his Argentina shirt.”

Former Argentina international and studio guest Pablo Zabaleta agreed, adding: “It’s just why? No reason to.”

Messi took off the bisht as he left the podium which prompted Lineker to add: “He’s taken his little robe off now.”

Having lost a 2-0 lead, Messi looked to have secured victory in extra time before his PSG teammate, Kylian Mbappe, sent the game into a shootout which Argentina edged 4-2.

The robe image was a big payback moment for Qatar’s $220bn investment, The Guardian suggested.

Messi was draped in the cloak by the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, as he prepared to lift the trophy and as Fifa’s president, Gianni Infantino, watched on.

The bisht covered part of Messi’s Argentina shirt, including the national badge, during the ceremony – ensuring that iconic images of the trophy lift will remain a reminder of whose World Cup this was, the newspaper wrote.

The bisht was placed on Messi after Argentina had beaten France on penalties, deciding a pulsating final that had ended 3-3. Messi scored twice – and tucked away his spot-kick in the shootout – to help his team win a first World Cup since 1986.

Zabaleta did not let the robe discussion take away from the victory celebrations. He played alongside Messi in 2014 when Argentina lost the final against Germany in Brazil.

He said: “It’s one of those moments. I was just looking at Messi and I know what it means for the players. Well done to France and Mbappe. Thank you to everyone for that great game, we really enjoy it.

“I’ve been part of that youth team, when Messi came for the first time to play for the national team. He came to represent his country, the passion and the respect.

“He has always shown that for his country and we need to respect that. Everyone is just crying and giving him a big hug because he is one of those players who really really deserve it so well done.

“For our country, we will see a picture of Maradona and Messi, two of the greatest players of all time with the World Cup trophy. That is something so incredible. We are so lucky.”

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