Football Star’s Donation Upsets Several Egyptians

May 29, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. garner / ˈgɑr nər / (v.) – to gather or earn something 
Example: The actress’s beautiful dress garnered praise from the press.

2. well-meaning / ˈwɛlˈmi nɪŋ / (adj.) – characterized by having or coming from good intentions
Example: She comforted her friend with well-meaning words.

3. gesture / ˈdʒɛs tʃər / (n.) – an action done for a certain purpose
Example: She gave him a gift as a friendly gesture.

4. significance / sɪgˈnɪf ɪ kəns / (n.) – the meaning of an object, place, person, etc.
Example: The thumbs-up sign has a different significance across different cultures.

5. humiliate / hyuˈmɪl iˌeɪt / (v.) – to cause someone to feel ashamed
Example: The teacher humiliated the student for his mistake.


Read the text below.
An act of charity by Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi garnered negative reactions in Egypt.

Several Egyptians were offended when Messi donated his football boots in an Egyptian TV show, which airs on private TV network MBC Masr. According to the show’s host, Mona El-Sharkawy, all of their guests leave souvenirs, which are then auctioned for charity. Messi gave a pair of used football boots for the auction and the host expressed her gratitude for them.

However, the well-meaning gesture was interpreted by many Egyptians as an insult because of the significance of shoes in their culture. Shoes are considered unclean in Arab nations like Egypt because they are worn by the lowest part of the body and because they touch the ground. Shoes must be taken off before a person enters a place of worship or someone else’s house as a sign of respect, and it is considered an insult to show the soles of one’s feet or shoes.

Many Egyptians expressed their anger on social media. One of the greatest critics of Messi’s donation was Said Hasasin, a member of the Egyptian Parliament. Hasasin said that the gesture humiliated the Egyptian people. He then offered his own shoes to Messi as an insult.

However, amid the outrage, Egyptian footballer Ahmed “Mido” Hossam defended Messi. He said that shoes are very precious to footballers, and appealed to his fellow Egyptians to stop the false accusations against Messi.

Messi, who was listed in Forbes magazine as the second highest-paid footballer in the world, is frequently involved in charity. He once donated 4.5 million Argentinian pesos or more than $300,000 to UNICEF.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree with the reaction of the Egyptian people to Messi’s donation? Why or why not?
·         How do you think can Messi make up for what happened? Discuss.

Discussion B

·         What is the importance of being aware of other people’s cultural practices and beliefs?
·         What are ways to avoid offending someone with a different culture?

May 29, 2016