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30th Mar 2016

Lionel Messi’s gift of football boots on Egyptian TV provokes serious outrage

Simon Lloyd

Aside from being quite possibly the greatest person to have ever graced a football pitch, Lionel Messi loves nothing more than proving that he’s a thoroughly nice bloke.

Only recently, the Barcelona star was widely praised for taking the time to send a shirt and a football to a young Afghan boy, after a picture of the youngster wearing a homemade Messi Argentina shirt – fashioned from a blue and white striped plastic bag – went viral.

Following on from that, Messi appeared on Egyptian TV show Yes I am Famous, and announced that he’d like to auction a pair of his football boots for charity.

No big deal, right? Wrong.

Although Messi clearly meant it as a well-intentioned gift, it appears the reigning Ballon d’Or winner overlooked the cultural significance of such a gesture.

In Egypt – as is the case in some other Arab countries – shoes can be seen as a symbol of disrespect, meaning some were offended by it.

As well as several expressing their anger on social media, the BBC report that Egyptian MP Said Hasasin, a presenter on Al-Asimah TV’s Infirad programme, removed his shoes on air and promised to donate them to Messi.

And it didn’t stop there.

The same BBC report points out that opponents of current Egyptian President, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, also made the most of the situation. A hashtag translating to ‘Messi’s_shoes_to_AlSisi’s_people’ was used over 15,000 times.

Poor Lionel.

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