Thursday 22 February 2018

Lionel Messi incurs the wrath of Egypt with 'disgusting' boot donation

Barcelona's Lionel Messi (Reuters/Albert Gea)
Barcelona's Lionel Messi (Reuters/Albert Gea)

Callum Davis

Lionel Messi has sparked indignation in Egypt after making a seemingly kind gesture.

The Barcelona forward offered to donate his football boots for a charity auction during an appearance on Egyptian TV programme, 'Yes, I am famous.'

But the 28-year-old soon discovered that his kind-hearted gesture comes loaded with insulting connotations in Arabic culture. In Egypt, as well as other countries in the Arab region, the shoe is symbolic of dirt, and is often used as a tool of insult.

What was meant to be a well-intentioned act soon turned sour as Egyptians used social media to air their displeasure with Messi's insulting act Egyptian parliament member Said Hasasin encapsulated the indignation with the world's most iconic footballer.

"We have never been humiliated during our seven thousand years of civilisation. I will hit you with the shoes, Messi," Hasasin said on an Egyptian TV show.

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

One Egyptian Twitter user posted: "This is the most disgusting. He was paid thousands of dollars and at the end he donated his shoes and the stupid presenter was happy,"

A spokesman for the Egyptian Football Association joined condemnation of the Barca star's gesture.

“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."

Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi famously protested George Bush's presence in his country by taking off both his shoes and throwing them at the American president in 2008.

Muntadar al-Zeidi, 28, was arrested after throwing his shoes at Mr Bush during a press conference with Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister The four-time Ballon D'Or winner scored his fiftieth goal for Argentina in his side's 2-0 win over Bolivia.

The goal means Messi is now just six goals behind the country's leading goalscorer, Gabriel Batistuta.

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