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German TV pundit apologizes for mocking Qatari clothing

November 28, 2022

Sandro Wagner had described the traditional male Qatari clothing as a "bathrobe" during his commentary on the Germany-Spain game at the FIFA World Cup.

Qatari canditaes register to run in the country's upcoming election as members of its top advisory panel.
The white, long-sleeved Qatari thaubs are a source of pride for the men of this conservative countryImage: AFP/Getty Images

Former Germany striker Sandro Wagner apologized on Monday for describing the traditional male Qatari clothing as a "bathrobe" while co-commenting on the German team's World Cup game with Spain a day earlier.

During his commentary for public broadcaster ZDF on the Sunday evening game, the former Bayern Munich striker said that at first sight, he had thought that one end of the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor was full of German fans.

"Only then did I realize that they are the Qatari bathrobes," he added, in reference to the Thaub, the traditional male Qatari attire.

The Thaub is a white full-length robe with long sleeves. It is a source of pride for Qataris, as well as other Arabs in the region, where each country has its national Thaub.

What did Wagner say about the Thaub comment?

The former footballer's comment stirred a lot of controversy on social media. Many found it "racist," tweeting their anger away at ZDF.

In a statement shared on the broadcaster's Twitter account on Monday, Wagner described his comment as "ill-considered" and "inappropriate." He apologized if anyone felt "attacked" by it, stressing that it was not his intention.

The German broadcaster also addressed the comment, saying: "Sandro Wagner's comments about the Thaub unfortunately occurred during an emotional phase of the game. He's not permitted (to say that). We'll talk about it.''

The game ended with a draw, while Germany would have hoped for a win to increase its chances of qualifying for the next round of the tournament.

ZDF said it had no intention of firing the commentator, saying he was doing a good job, German news agency dpa reported. He is next due to work on the game between Poland and Argentina on Wednesday.

Why was Wagner's comment controversial?

Qatar, the host of this year's World Cup, has been at the center of controversy since the start of the tournament. The Muslim, conservative country has apparently seen to the banning of alcoholic drinks at the stadiums, as well as banning the OneLove armbands which the captains of several nations, including Germany, were planning to wear as a show of support for LGBTQ rights.

On the other hand, commentators from both inside and outside the Arabic-speaking world have questioned why Qatar is being so harshly criticized, suggesting it has less to do with political issues and more to do with racism, orientalism, even Islamophobia.

rmt/rt (AP, dpa)