Barcelona's soccer star, Lionel Messi, has starred in an Egyptian TV show about his career as a professional soccer player, donating his personal soccer shows to a charity in Egypt.
In an interview to the TV show "Yes, I am famous", broadcast on Saturday on the Egyptian MBC channel, the Argentinian superstar Messi granted his soccer shoes to the show's host, requesting that she put the shoes up for auction in Egypt and donate the money received to charity.
Messi's gesture received negative feedback among Egyptians, mainly because the cultural repercussions of it. Since showing the sole of one's shoe is regarded as an insult in Arab culture, Messi's gesture was taken by many social media activists as an indication of his scorn for Egyptians.
These activists even launched a social media campaign against Messi under the hashtag, "Messi's shoes to the people of Sisi." Some claimed that Messi is Jewish and that he donated his shoes to humiliate the Egyptians.
Nevertheless, Hazem Emam, a well-known former Egyptian soccer player who played on Egypt's national team, said that Messi's donation to the poor people in Egypt is a very common donation that soccer players from all around the world tend to give.
He added that Messi's gesture does not demonstrate disrespect for the Egyptian people, citing the example of Mahmoud al-Khatib, a former Egyptian soccer star, who also donated his soccer shoes to charity.
The hour and a half long interview ended with Messi speaking in Arabic, reading from a banner the show's names written in the Latin alphabet.