QUIRKY WORLD ... Lionel Messi puts his foot in it with charity donation

EGYPT: World Footballer of the Year Lionel Messi found himself the unlikely figure of controversy in Egypt after a local politician and a soccer official reacted angrily when he donated a pair of his boots to raise money for charity.

MBC Masr channel broadcast an interview last Saturday with Barcelona’s Messi on the television programme Yes I am Famous, but the announcement that the Argentina forward would auction his boots for charity provoked an unexpected response.

Member of parliament and television presenter Said Hasasin, appearing on his own talk show, took off his shoes and said he would donate them to the poor of Argentina.

“Whose shoes do you want to sell, Messi? How much do you think it will get? 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.

“Messi, we Egyptians are 90m people, who have pride, we have shoes.

“We don’t eat off the money of other peoples’ shoes. I would have understood if he donated his Barcelona uniform to the Egyptians, it’s accepted. But just the shoes?

“It’s humiliating to all Egyptians and I do not accept this humiliation. Egyptians may not find food, but they have pride.”

Throwing shoes is considered an insult in the Middle East.

MBC Masr’s Mona El-Sharkawy, who interviewed Messi, said the gesture had been misinterpreted and that the donation was not for an Egyptian charity.

Messi has not commented on the reaction to his donation.

Bad apples

BELGIUM: It reads like the world’s worst menu: Italian olives painted with copper sulphate solution, Sudanese sugar tainted with fertiliser, and hundreds of thousands of litres of bogus alcoholic drinks have topped Interpol’s annual tally of toxic and counterfeit food seized by police agencies across the world.

The haul of bogus diet supplements, adulterated honey and formalin-drenched chicken guts makes for stomach-churning reading. Interpol said that a record 10,000 tonnes has been recovered across 57 countries.

Europol, which co-ordinated the seizures along with Interpol over the past three months, said counterfeit food is “a multi-billion criminal industry which can pose serious potential health risks to unsuspecting customers”.

Copper cats

ENGLAND: A police force could be the first to introduce cats alongside its dogs after a five-year-old wrote to the Chief Constable suggesting they should team up.

Eliza Adamson-Hopper received a reply from Durham Police chief Mike Barton, thanking her for the suggestion and saying he would pass the idea on to an inspector. Mr Barton included a drawing of his cat, Joey, on the back of his hand-written letter.

Now Inspector Richie Allen, of the Dog Support Unit, has confirmed the force will consider using cats in an as-yet-unspecified role.

Eliza, from Burnopfield, has a cat, Mittens, and a dog called Susie, and the pets are friends.

Big Mac back

USA: A new Ronald McDonald statue has arrived in Burlington, Vermont, after vandals burned, decapitated and cut the feet off the old one that sat outside a Ronald McDonald House for sick children and families close to the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital.

Falling foul of the law

ENGLAND: A man who attempted to flee police was stopped when the machete he had hidden down his trousers caused him to fall over, police said.

The 17-year-old was a passenger in a Vauxhall Corsa which was stopped as part of a routine patrol in south-west London. Cannabis was found in the car and both the passenger and a male driver in his earlier 20s have been arrested.

A Metropolitan Police statement said: “The 17-year-old passenger sought to make off but fell over. His fall is likely to have been connected to the machete, contained within a sheath, which was hidden inside his trouser leg.”

Bum note

GERMANY: Germany has rebuffed Turkey’s complaint about a satirical song that angered Ankara, saying the clip is covered by freedom of speech.

Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned the German ambassador to demand the song’s removal from the website of German public broadcaster ARD. The clip pokes fun at Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan while highlighting Turkey’s crackdown on journalists and the opposition.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman said German diplomats told their Turkish counterparts there is no chance the government will intervene over the song. Sawsan Chebli said that “Germany’s position on freedom of the press and expression isn’t negotiable”.


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