FIFA 2022 concluded this Sunday with Argentina lifting the World Cup trophy for the third time since 1986 when Diego Maradona captained the team. The long deadlock was finally overcome in 2022 under the captaincy of Lionel Messi.
The Qatar World Cup has been controversial ever since the Middle East country got the opportunity to host FIFA’s biggest event of FIFA – initially the controversy was about Qatar’s bidding to host the World Cup and later it was about workers' conditions. Germany's team covered their mouths to protest against Qatar not allowing LGBTQ armbands. Throughout the tournament many of these issues were heavily discussed, particularly in Western media. The whole tournament was full of excitement, and fans have had mixed reviews on social media; many fans thought that due to the liquor ban in the stadium there was no hooliganism, and they enjoyed the world cup to its fullest. Reuters published a story saying that no England fans had been arrested during the global event – and this may be because of strict laws against hooliganism and liquor in the country.
The controversy did not end with the tournament. Fresh debate began during the final presentation ceremony. Before Messi received the trophy, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa of Qatar covered Messi’s shoulders with a “Bisht” or “cloak”, a traditional Arabic outfit which is worn by high officials during special occasions – and, indeed, it was a special occasion both for Qatar, as the first Middle East country to host the World Cup, and for Lionel Messi, whose dream had come true. But it was hard to digest for western media and many social media influencers. The Mirror came up with the headline “Why Lionel Messi was forced to cover Argentina shirt with Qatari Bisht during trophy lift”, claiming that it ruined the greatest moment in World Cup history. Similarly, James Pearce, a reporter for The Athletic FC, tweeted: “Longest wait for a Trophy lift ever and they did their best to ruin it”.
The problem with Western media is that they cannot accept how others want to celebrate or enjoy the game. So-called champions of freedom of speech believe Qatar hijacked the moment by having its own culture. For the West, Western culture is supreme and everyone must follow its diktats. This is not the first time the host nation has used its own traditions: during the 1970 Mexico World Cup final, a sombrero was put on Pele’s head moments after winning his third FIFA trophy. Similarly, Athens Olympics 2004 winners were crowned with olive wreaths.
Western Media never misses an opportunity to show racism towards the Orient. A few days ago, Soren Lippert, news presenter for the Danish TV2 News compared Moroccan players celebrating with their mothers after their victory over Portugal with a picture of monkeys hugging each other. He also said, “They do this at family gatherings in Qatar and Morocco, because they are so attached to each other.” After outrage in social media, the channel and the presenter had to issue an apology and clarify that it was unintentional, but the question remains the same regardless of intent: it clearly shows that racism is inbuilt in European society, which sees non-Europeans as uncivilized. After the 2020 Euro Cup Final defeat, England’s Black players (like Bukayo Saka, Sancho, and Rashford) faced racist taunts for missing the penalty. So, Western media and society are highly racist, and the World Cup in Qatar was another occasion for Westerners to show their sick mentality. They have done their best to do so from the start, first arguing that Qatar’s bid to host the Cup should be cancelled over human rights issues.
Yet these same people and these same Western media do not question the USA’s hosting of the 2026 FIFA World Cup despite its history of committing genocide in Vietnam, Laos, Iraq, Libya, etc, and its dismantlement of democratically elected governments in Latin America. The West will have problems whenever Asian, African, and Latin American countries achieve something on a global level.
Argentinian football officials, players and fans have no issue with Lionel Messi being covered with the cloak, so Western media have no right to question it. Let the fans enjoy!
Cover Image Credits: State Department photo by Ronny Przysucha
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