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Messi's football-cleat donation outrages Egyptians

Shoes are considered extremely unclean objects in the Middle East [YouTube]

Date of publication: 29 March, 2016

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Argentinean footballer Lionel Messi has sparked controversy in Egypt after he gave away his shoes to charity during a television interview.
Football superstar Lionel Messi has inadvertently caused outrage in the Egyptian media after he donated his shoes to charity.

The FC Barcelona striker gave his football cleats to be auctioned and the money donated to a charity on Monday, during an interview on the Saudi-owned channel MBC Egypt, sparking anger from some commentators and social media users.

In the Arab world, shoes are considered extremely unclean objects, hitting someone with any kind of footwear is a serious insult.

"The Egyptians have never been so humiliated during our seven thousand years of civilisation. I will hit you with my shoe, Messi," said lawmaker and TV presenter, Said Hasasin, during his evening talk show before taking off his own shoe on air and "donated" it to Argentina.

The spokesman for the Egyptian Football Association then phoned into the programme to express his outrage.

"We don't need his shoes and we don't need charity from Jews or Israelis. Give your shoes to your country, Argentina is full of poverty," he said, referring to Messi's visit to Israel three ago.

Social media users commented on the footballing giant's donation using the Arabic-language hashtag #Messi'sShoesForSisi'sPeople, with many criticising the media for blowing the situation out of proportion.

"An author's most prized possession is his pen… a footballer's most prized possession is his shoes. I hope we can all stop making us a big deal about this," tweeted former Egyptian national team player Mido.

Sameh Abdel Khaliq said the money raised at auction could have been used to help poor Egyptian children, adding that the media have now ruined the golden opportunity.

Others were more critical.

"Messi received $360,000 to appear as a guest on the programme and all he's left us with is his shoes," said one Twitter user.

Another user slammed the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for accepting handouts such as used blankets from the UAE and financial support from Saudi Arabia, along with Messi's football cleats.

Last month, Messi gifted a five-year-old Afghan boy a signed shirt and football, after images of him wearing a Messi shirt made out of plastic bag went viral.

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