Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi's act of donating shoes has been interpreted as a national insult to Egyptians, sparking criticism of the gifted footballer. Messi had offered his football boots for a charity auction, but the gesture left several Egyptians feeling offended.

The Argentinian footballer appeared on an Egyptian television programme on MBC Masr when he told the presenter that he would like to donate a pair of his shoes for a charity auction. "One of the things he [Messi] does is give charity all over the world and these will be among the donations he gives," said Egyptian presenter Mona El-Sharkawy as she sat across from Messi and held his red and white boots to the camera.

"And he gave these to our program because we will start an auction for them. Messi, thank you very very much." While the presenter replied pleasantly, several Egyptians took exception to the charitable gesture.

Egyptian MP and TV presenter, Said Hasasin, donated his own shoe to Messi while appearing on his television programme. "We have never been humiliated during our seven thousand years of civilisation. I will hit you with the shoes, Messi...This is my shoe. I donate it to Argentina," said Hasasin.

A spokesman for Egypt's Football Association, Azmy Megahed said: "Our poor people don't need him... I'm confused, if he intends to humiliate us, then I say he better put those shoes on his head and on the heads of the people supporting him. Give your shoes to your country, Argentina is full of poverty."

Meanwhile, El-Sharkawy who anchored the Messi programme, defended the footballer. "Messi did not even mention Egypt and I did not say the proceeds would go to Egypt...I am so surprised that people are accusing us of things that weren't even said."