On Sunday 19 December 2022, Lionel Messi finally realised a lifelong dream of lifting the World Cup, one that his fellow Argentinians and fans around the world all shared.
However, for many, what will go down as one of the most historic moments in football seems to have had some of the shine taken off it because of how he lifted the trophy and because of one thing: a robe.
For anyone who somehow didn’t manage to catch the long-dreamt-of scenes, Messi was draped in a special robe by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, just before he lifted the trophy and it has left many football supporters divided.
While the ceremonial cloak made him look like what millions already consider him – royalty – some found it uncomfortable and unnecessary.
As explained above, the robe itself is a ‘Beshth’ or ‘Bisht’, which is said to not only have been a mark of respect made by the Middle East but a fairly typical ceremonial garment across the region.
While millions were clearly left feeling uneasy over the Bisht’s meaning, rather than simply being associated with Qatari royalty, it actually had more to do with tradition and the country embracing him in this historic moment which played out on their home turf.
Alternatively, some have also interpreted the gesture as the nation’s way of dubbing Messi “the king of football“. The image has no doubt left a lasting impression.
Nevertheless, for lots of those watching around the world, this moment preceding Messi’s almost mythologised trophy lift was less about the meaning behind the bisht but more about who handed it to him and what it represented in the grander scheme of football.
A deferential and ostensibly innocent token of admiration it may be, the Emir of Qatar and his regime are not. The legacy of this tournament is built on the countless lives affected, be it the migrant workers who were abused and died erecting the stadiums or marginalised groups like the LGBTQ+ community.
In the eyes of critics, this not only displayed how the controversial and much-maligned hosts foisted themselves into a deeply special and long-awaited moment, but it was emblematic of the undercurrent of sportwashing tightening its grip on the beautiful game.
On the other hand, just as many commentators have dubbed the coverage by large sections of Western media as “ignorant”, “quick to judge”, “Islamaphobic” and “racist”, with the likes of Gary Lineker taking flak for describing the choice as “a shame”.
Former Manchester City man and ex-Argentina teammate Pablo Zabaleta asked from the studio, “Just why? There’s no reason to do that”, once again suggesting that the Sheikh and FIFA President Gianni Infantino made the moment more about the Qatar 2022 campaign than the man of the moment.
Either way, there seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding for both arguments and while most Brits watching back home will have likely had little to no knowledge of the reasoning beyond it being a cultural custom, others online have pointed out that football has seen similar scenes before.
What do you think? Was this simply a mark of respect misunderstood by the majority of the Western world, an unnecessary stunt that took away from the GOAT’s most iconic moment, or another instance of FIFA and Qatar putting their own interests before the sport?
One thing we can all agree on is Messi is very, very good at football, having now every accolade there is to win in football.
Featured Image — BBC Sport/Leo Messi (via Instagram)
Gary Neville addresses ‘clumsy like’ on Tweet about Mason Greenwood ￼
Gary Neville has said that his liking of a tweet about Mason Greenwood has been ‘misinterpreted’.
The former Manchester United legend and football pundit set off a Twitter storm last night after he ‘liked’ two tweets by Nazir Afzal, and briefly retweeted one.
The tweets in question said that Greenwood was an ‘innocent man’ and added that ‘you are innocent until PROVEN guilty’.
Mason Greenwood had all criminal charges against him dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.
He had faced allegations of rape, controlling and coercive behaviour, and assault, all against the same woman.
The CPS said that Greenwood case had been stopped because of ‘the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material that came to light’, adding that there was no longer a ‘realistic prospect of conviction’.
Several people noticed that Neville had liked a tweet about Greenwood’s ‘innocence’ and quickly challenged him on it.
One person shared a screenshot and wrote: “You have a massive platform and you’re liking bulls**t like this just because the monster plays for a team you support. you’re disgusting @GNev2.”
He posted: “I liked a tweet relating to the Mason Greenwood news this afternoon from Nazir Afzal. ( the former director of public prosecutions ).
“This like is being misinterpreted. It was a clumsy like as I obviously condemn any violence against women.”
Greenwood issued a short statement yesterday, writing: “I am relieved that this matter is now over and I would like to thank my family, loved ones and friends for their support. There will be no further comment at this time.”
Featured image: Instagram, @garyneville2 / publicity picture
Mason Greenwood says he feels ‘relieved’ after all attempted rape and assault charges are dropped
Mason Greenwood has said he feels “relieved” after all attempted rape and assault charges against him were dropped yesterday.
The CPS said it had a “duty to stop the case” after “new material that came to light”.
Those developments meant there was “no longer a realistic prospect of conviction”, and the CPS confirmed that it has “explained [this decision] to all parties”.
Yesterday’s announcement comes after GMP confirmed back in January 2022 that “a man in his 20s” had been arrested on suspicion of rape, assault, and a threat to kill after allegations were made a woman on social media.
The controlling and coercive behaviour related to a period between November 2018 and October 2022, where Greenwood was alleged to have made threatening and derogatory comments towards the complainant, as well as accessing and monitoring her social media accounts, while the charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm was from December 2021.
The attempted rape was alleged to have happened in October 2021.
Chief Superintendent Michaela Kerr, GMP’s Head of Public Protection, said in a statement yesterday that the police force felt it was “only fair” that it shares the news of all charges against Greenwood been dropped “given the significant media coverage of this case”.
GMP said the decision to drop the charges had “not been taken lightly”, and that it has “decided not to comment on it in any further detail”, despite the media and public’s “interest” in the case.
Greenwood has now spoken out following the decision.
The footballer said in a short statement issued yesterday: “I am relieved that this matter is now over and I would like to thank my family, loved ones and friends for their support. There will be no further comment at this time.”
Once the news of the allegations initially broke on social media back in early 2022, and GMP confirmed the arrest, Manchester United said in a statement released at the time that Greenwood would not return to training or play matches “until further notice”.
Now, following yesterday’s announcement, the club said it had “noted” the CPS’s decision.
United added in a statement that: “The club will now conduct its own process before determining next steps [and] we will not make any further comment until that process is complete.”
Following the announcement of the CPS’s decision yesterday, GMP and CS Kerr did however appeal to people who felt they were, or might have been, a victim, and reiterated the police force’s “commitment” to investigating “allegations of violence against women and girls”.
CS Kerr continued: “An ever-increasing number of officers are receiving specialist training and the force is more consistently utilising tools, available via the criminal justice system, to keep people safe and care for victims.
“If you feel you are or might be a victim, please don’t let this case put you off asking for help.”
Rape and Sexual Assault Support Centres in Greater Manchester
St. Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre Manchester – Provides a comprehensive and co-ordinated response to men, women and children who live or have been sexually assaulted within Greater Manchester. They offer forensic medical examinations, practical and emotional support as well as a counselling service for all ages. Services are available on a 24-hour basis and can be accessed by calling 0161 276 6515.
Greater Manchester Rape Crisis – A confidential information, support and counselling service run by women for women over 18 who have been raped or sexually abused at any time in their lives. Call on 0161 273 4500 or email [email protected]
Survivors Manchester – Provides specialist trauma informed support to male victims in Greater Manchester who have experienced sexual abuse, rape, or sexual exploitation. Call 0161 236 2182.