Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi, who is Catholic, was called “Jewish” and “Zionist” after he offered to donate a pair of soccer shoes to charity while appearing on Egyptian TV.
Messi was interviewed on “Yes I Am Famous,” a show broadcast on the Egyptian network MBC Masr. In the interview, Messi said he would like to donate his shoes to charity. Appearing on another television program, Said Hasasein, a member of the Egyptian parliament, rejected Messi’s donation because of the stigma attached to shoes in Egypt’s society.
“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,” said Hasasein.
Egyptian Football Federation spokesman Azmi Mogahed later said he knows that Messi is “Jewish” and “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.”
Although Messi, 28, is Catholic, he visited Israel’s Western Wall in 2013 while touring with his soccer team, FC Barcelona.
Messi also made news on Sunday after his name appeared in the “Panama Papers,” files leaked from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonesca which show that wealthy individuals and world leaders had allegedly hid money in offshore accounts. Messi and 20 other high-profile soccer players are named in the documents.