Lionel Messi Donates Cleats to Charity on Egyptian Talk Show, Politician Calls It “Humiliating to All Egyptians” (Video)

lionel messi donates cleats for charity auction during

Last week Lionel Messi sat down for an interview with Mona El-Sharkawy on the Egyptian talk show, Yes I Am Famous. At the end of the interview, El-Sharkawy asked Messi for a souvenir to be auctioned off for charity, which apparently is a tradition on the show. So Messi gave her his cleats, which is a pretty standard athlete gift.

Unfortunately, the simple gesture caused a huge uproar in Egypt. There, as in other Arab countries, the shoe can be a symbol of disrespect. Giving or throwing shoes or showing somebody the soles of your shoes is considered an insult. Even the phrase “to hit someone with a shoe” is considered offensive. Remember the reporter who threw his shoe at George W. Bush?

Of course, Messi meant nothing by it. Somebody asked for a souvenir. He gave some cleats like he always does. That person graciously excepted them. He obviously had no intention of insulting Egyptians and had no idea that giving his cleats could be interpreted as a slight. He should be forgiven for what amounts to a culture faux pas.

But no. A number of people took to social media to express their outrage at Messi’s offensive gesture. Now an Egyptian politician and TV host has ripped Messi a new one on his own show.

Check out this rant by Said Hasasin, an actual member of the Parliament of Egypt:

Whose shoes do you want to sell, Messi? How much do you think it will get? You don’t know that the nail of a baby Egyptian is worth more than your shoes? Keep your shoes to yourself.

Messi, we Egyptians are 90 million people, who have pride, we have shoes. We don’t eat off the money of other peoples’ shoes. I would have understood if he donated his Barcelona uniform to the Egyptians, it’s accepted. But just the shoes?

It’s humiliating to all Egyptians and I do not accept this humiliation. Egyptians may not find food, but they have pride. We Egyptians have never been humiliated before during our seven thousand years of civilization.

Obviously this is just blatant political grandstanding. Egypt is not some isolated country that is completely ignorant of the fact that people in other parts of the world do things differently than they do. Plenty of reasonable Egyptians understand Messi meant no disrespect, including Mona El-Sharkawy and former Egyptian soccer player Mido, who implored people on Twitter to “stop the false accusations.”

Said Hasasin, on the other hand, is just trying to use ignorance for his own political advantage. But American politicians would never do that, right?

Hopefully Messi will apologize for the unintended insult and cooler heads will prevail.

Hat Tip – [The Guardian]

Tags: charity, cleats, controversy, egypt, FC Barcelona, lionel messi, Soccer,