The man known as the world’s most famous footballer has been red-carded in Egypt.
Lionel Messi has found himself caught up in a controversy thanks to an innocent gesture concerning his famous football boots.
Kick off – Messi appears on television
First half – Messi puts the boot in
During the interview, the Barcelona forward makes a well-meaning offer to donate a pair of his boots to be auctioned off for charity.
He has already done this on a number of occasions without incident.
Tackled by Egypt
Member of the Egyptian Parliament Said Hasasin said he was so offended by the gesture that he took off his shoes during his own evening TV show, saying he would follow in Messi’s bootsteps by donating them to Argentina.
“We Egyptians have never so been humiliated during our seven thousand years of civilisation. I will hit you with these 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.”
El presentador de noticias Said Hasasin se saca un zapato y dice “Acá está mi zapato, se lo dono a Argentina” pic.twitter.com/YOWOBqdBd0— Rashid Ali Garcia (@RashidAliGarcia) March 28, 2016
“The Messi issue is shameful,” said Amir Eid, the lead singer of the group Cairokee. “The media are stupid. I hear someone has complained to the Attorney General. I hope sometime we can have at least one week with no scandals in Egypt.”
اللي بيحصل مع ميسي ده فضيحه سوده والمصحف اعلام جاهل ومتخلف وبيقولك في واحد قدم فيه بلاغ للنائب العام. نفسي يعدي علينا اسبوع من غير فضايح— Amir Eid-أمير عيد (@Amir3id) March 28, 2016
“I am confused, if he means 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” – Azmy Megahed from the Eyptian Football Association.
Half time commentary
What Lionel Messi failed to appreciate is that shoes, being on the ground and associated with the foot, the lowest part of the body, are seen as a symbol of disrespect and viewed with distaste in Egypt and other Arab countries in the region.
Messi clearly did not remember the case of Muntasir al-Zaydi.
He became famous after throwing his shoes at US President George W Bush during a press conference in 2008.
An unfortunate but classic case of cultural confusion.
Second half – the defence piles in with a late tackle
Some did come to Messi’s defence in the face of widespread disapproval of his well-intentioned action.
A no-score draw.
It’s all gone a bit Messi.