Barcelona’s star player and soccer sensation Lionel Messi got more than he bargained last week when he donated a pair of his shoes to an Egyptian charity.
After making the donation, Messi was interviewed by Mona El-Sharkawy on the “Yes, I Am Famous” television show.
El-Sharkawy expressed gratitude for the donated items, which will be auctioned off for charity.
“One of the things he does is give charity all over the world,” said El-Sharkawy, “and these will be among the donations he gives. And he gave these to our program because we will have an auction for them. Messi, thank you very, very much.”
But not everyone in Egypt was appreciative of Messi’s gift. Noting a 2013 visit by Messi's team FC Barcelona to Israel, which was meant to promote Middle East peace, critics alleged the soccer star had a secret agenda, accusing him of holding "Zionist citizenship."
Azmi Mogahed, a spokesman for the Egyptian Football Federation, called into the show to register his disapproval. The EFF official rejected Messi, claiming he was Jewish and a Zionist.
“[H]e’s Jewish, he donates to Israel and visited the Wailing Wall and whatever,” said Mogahed. “[W]e don’t need his shoe and Egypt’s poor don’t need help from someone with Jewish or Zionist citizenship."
Even an Egyptian Member of Parliament weighed in.
Despite Messi’s clear Catholic background, MP Said Hasasein blasted the soccer star as “Jewish," and called the donation “an insult to the Egyptian people.”