Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi has caused a stir in Egypt after offering his boots for a charity auction.
Messi, 28, donated his boots for an auction in an interview with TV channel MBC Masr broadcast last week.
But the gesture has been blasted in Egypt, where shoes can be used as a symbol of disrespect or insult.
Member of Parliament and TV presenter Said Hasasin responded furiously, labelling the move “humiliating”.
“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,” he said on Al-Asimah TV.
“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 civilisation.”
Mona El-Sharkawy, who conducted the interview with Messi, said the criticism of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner was unfair.
“This is so false. It’s a trend on our show that we take a souvenir from our guest and put it on auction for charity,” she told Ahram.
“I am surprised, I didn’t say we will be giving it to charity in Egypt or any other place. I don’t know why they said he is presenting it to Egypt. This was never said.”
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