Barcelona forward Lionel Messi's gesture to donate a pair of his boots to a Saudi television station for a charity auction has caused controversy in Egypt after a member of parliament and the federation president said the gift was insulting.
According to a report in Ahram Online, the Argentina striker agreed to a request from a journalist on the Saudi channel MBC Masr's show "Yes, I am famous," to donate a pair of his boots for charity auction. The channel mainly targets an Egyptian audience and the interview aired last weekend.
Egyptian Parliament member Said Hasasin said he was so offended by the gesture that he took off his shoes during his evening TV show and said he would donate them to Argentina, the report said.
"We [Egyptians] have never been humiliated during our seven thousand years of civilisation... I will hit you with the shoes, Messi," Hasasin said during his show as he took his shoe off and held it up on the air. "This is my shoe. I donate it to Argentina."
Egyptian Football Association official Azmy Megahed called in to the programme as well, saying: "Our poor don't need him. Work shoes for him."
"I am confused, if he intends to humiliate us, then I say he better put these shoes on his head and on the heads of the people supporting him. We don't need his shoes and we don't need charity from Jewish or Israeli people. Give your shoes to your country, Argentina is full of poverty" Megahed said, according to the report.
Former Egypt international and Ex-Tottenham and Celta Vigo forward Mido, defended Messi via Twitter.
"The most precious thing the writer owns is his pen... and the most precious thing the footballer owns is his shoes."-@midoahm #Messi
- Footybedsheets (@_shireenahmed_) March 29, 2016
Mona El-Sharkawy, the reporter who conducted the interview, for which Messi answered his questions in Spanish, said it was not true that Messi asked that his shoes be donated to charity.
"That is false," she said, according to the report in Marca. "On our show we always request a souvenir from the people we interview and we put those things up for auction for charity. I am shocked by what has happened. Messi never said he was going to donate his boots to charity in Egypt."