Egypt’s best-known archaeologist Zahi Hawass apologized late Tuesday after he angrily called Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi “an idiot” because the striker seemed to show little interest during a tour of the Giza Pyramids.
“I apologize to Messi and his fans for the misunderstanding,” he said in a statement, adding he was expressing anger over an inefficient interpreter and was actually a big fan of the soccer player.
Hawass, famous for TV specials on Egypt’s ancient sites, showed Messi around the pyramids last month. In a TV interview, he was asked about the Barcelona striker’s reaction.
“Messi is an idiot,” he snapped. “I was explaining the antiquities to him and there’s no reaction in his face. I was explaining things that would make a rock react, but he was just like an idiot.”
Hawass reportedly criticized singer Beyonce Knowles in a similar way after a pyramid tour in 2013, saying “she’s a stupid person and she doesn’t understand a thing and she doesn’t want to understand."
Messi was touring Cairo in late February to promote Egypt as a medical destination for Hepatitis C patients.
"Medication against Hepatitis C saves lives, let's put an end to the waiting lists," Messi said on his official Facebook page.