Egyptians attack Messi as ‘Zionist’ after star donates football boots to TV auction


Football star Lionel Messi was criticized as a ‘Zionist’ and ‘Jewish’ after he donated a pair of cleats to a television show raffle in Egypt.

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 charity.

However, in Egypt shoes are considered a symbol of disrespect or an insult, and a local politician and football official rejected his donation.

Said Hasasein, a member of the Egyptian parliament and a talk show host allegedly said: “You don’t know that the nail of a baby Egyptian is worth more than your shoes? Keep your shoes to yourself or sell them to Israel.”

Egyptian Football Federation spokesman Azmi Mogahed agreed with Hasasein, saying: “I know he’s Jewish, he donates to Israel and visited the Wailing Wall and whatever … we don’t need his shoe and Egypt’s poor don’t need help from someone with Jewish or Zionist citizenship.”

The 28 year-old footballer who plays for Spanish club Barcelona, is a Catholic; he visited the Western Wall in 2013 while on a tour with Barcelona football club.

The reaction was so strong that TV presenter Mona El-Sharkawy had to defend her program publicly on Monday. "Messi did not even mention Egypt and I did not say the proceeds would go to Egypt," she said. "I am so surprised that people are accusing us of things that weren't even said."

However, not all reactions were negative. An Egyptian soccer player, Ahmed “Mido” Hossam, posted on Twitter: “The most precious thing the writer owns is his pen and the most precious thing the footballer owns is his shoes. I hope we stop these false accusations.”

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