Lionel Messi offends Egypt with boot donation to charity

Messi had donated his boots for a charity auction

Tom Sheen
Wednesday 30 March 2016 12:55 BST
(Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

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Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi is said to have offended Egypt after offering his boots to charity.

The 28-year-old's gesture has unfortunately been misinterpreted in Egypt, where it has been regarded by some as a national insult - in Egypt and other Arabic countries shoes can be used as a symbol of disrespect or insult.

A shoe can be considered dirty as it touches the ground.

Appearing on the TV show Yes I am Famous, Messi told the presenter that he would like to donate a pair of his boots for a charity auction.

However, the gesture has become a huge topic of discussion in Egypt, where an Egyptian MP even appeared on television and donated his own shoe to the footballer.

Egyptian MP Said Hasasin
Egyptian MP Said Hasasin (YouTube/Al-Asimah TV)

"We have never been humiliated during our seven thousand years of civilisation. I will hit you with the shoes, Messi," Said Hasasin said on Al-Asimah TV.

"This is my shoe. I donate it to Argentina."

A spokesman for the Egyptian FA has also condemned the act.

“Our poor people don’t need him. Shoes work for him," said Azmy Megahed.

“I’m confused, if he intends to humiliate us, then I say he better put those shoes on his head and on the heads of the people supporting him.

"Give your shoes to your country, Argentina is full of poverty."

In 2008, Iraqi journalist Muntada al-Zeidi infamously threw his shoes in protest at former US President George Bush's invasion of the country and continued presence.

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