Messi in Egypt - photo courtesy of Leo Messi's official Facebook page
CAIRO – 8 March 2017: Egyptian archaeologist and former Minister of State for Antiquities Zahi Hawass apologized to football star Lionel Messi for his “misunderstood” comment in which he described the latter as a “fool,” Youm7 reported Tuesday.
In a statement issued by Prime Pharma Company, the organizer of Messi’s visit to Egypt, Hawas explained there was a problem of communication during the visit because he could not speak Spanish and had to rely on a translator.
“I [was expressing] my anger at the translator’s failure and his incompetence and not at Messi, whom I respect, appreciate and admire,” Hawass said.
International newspapers were highly critical of Hawass’ statements following a Friday article in Spanish newspaper El Mundo which quoted Hawass as saying, “Messi is a fool. He had no reaction on his face while I was explaining to him the history of the monuments … If he were a stone, he would have commented.”
Hawass’ statements were made in a phone interview in which he also noted that “Messi’s visit was financed and organized by companies, while Will Smith’s visit was at his own expense.”
In the statement released by Prime Pharma, Hawas emphasized Messi’s visit is considered even more important than presidents and Hollywood stars because he is well known among all Egyptian citizens and not just the intellectuals who would interact with politicians.
Hawass said he was keen on meeting Messi even though he had just had surgery. “I hope he comes to Egypt again and I can take him to visit Tut Ankh Amon’s tomb myself,” Hawass added.
Argentine football legend Messi visited Egypt in February as part of Egypt’s Tour n Cure campaign to combat Hepatitis C, sponsored by Prime Pharma.
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