What’s not to like about world’s most famous footballer donating a pair of his boots to a charity auction?
Argentinian football star Lionel Messi donated his football boots to Egypt, but his charitable gesture has provoked outrage in the country, where an Egyptian member of parliament Said Hasasein took offence at the donation.
During a TV interview with the “Yes I am Famous” show broadcast on MBC’s Misr Channel, the Argentine footballer told the presenter he would like to donate his football boots to be auctioned off for charity, oblivious of how his well-intentioned gesture would be perceived in Egypt’s cultural context.
In the context, it turned out that donating shoes is especially insulting in Middle Eastern cultures.
The most precious thing a writer has is his pen, and the most precious thing a football player has is his boots.
In Arab culture, showing the soles of your shoes can be seen as especially insulting. The Arabic expression “to hit someone with a shoe” is offensive.
You might remember the case of an Iraqi journalist Muntasir al-Zaydi, who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush in protest at a press conference in Baghdad in 2008.According to The Times of Israel, some Egyptians criticised Messi and his interviewer on Twitter, using the hashtag “Messi’s boot for the Egyptian people.”
“It’s not your fault, Messi you dog. It’s the fault of that son-of-a-shoe channel, and that daughter-of-a-shoe interviewer,” wrote one.
Others, including former Egyptian soccer star Mido, defended Messi. “The most precious thing a writer has is his pen, and the most precious thing a football player has is his boots,” he wrote on Twitter.