Lionel Messi’s boots donation to charity causes controversy in Egypt
Lionel Messi made what he thought was a kind gesture in donating a pair of his boots to a charity auction held by a Saudi TV station, but it has caused controversy in Egypt.
Both a member of parliament and the football federation’s president have said the gift was insulting following a TV interview with Messi.
"We [Egyptians] have never been humiliated during our seven thousand years of civilisation... I will hit you with the shoes, Messi," Egyptian Parliament member Said Hasasin said as he took off his shoe and held it up live on air during his TV show.
Egyptian MP Said Hasasin on his TV show (Youtube)Eurosport
" This is my shoe. I donate it to Argentina."
In Egypt and other Arab countries shoes are sometimes used as a symbol of disrespect, hence the uproar.
Egyptian Football Association official Azmy Megahed added to it by making his feelings clear on the same show, named 'Infirad' (Exclusive), on Al-Asimah TV.
"Our poor don't need him. Work shoes for him,” Megahed said, according to the report.
"I am confused, if he intends to humiliate us, then I say he better put these shoes on his head and on the heads of the people supporting him.
"We don't need his shoes and we don't need charity from Jewish or Israeli people.
" Give your shoes to your country, Argentina is full of poverty."
The reporter who received the shoes from Messi backed the Barcelona forward amid the furore and said the footballer did not request that the shoes be donated to charity.
"I am shocked by what has happened. Messi never said he was going to donate his boots to charity in Egypt."