Messi snubs Nigeria, arrives Egypt for charity

Lionel Messi

Barcelona superstar, Lionel Messi, has looked away from Africa’s most populous black nation, Nigeria, in his quest to promote charity on the continent.

Instead, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner opted for North African nation, Egypt.

Messi has put aside a torrid week at Barca behind him to travel to the country on Wednesday as the face of an initiative to promote it as a medical tourism destination for hepatitis C patients.

A blood-borne viral disease, hepatitis C is highly prevalent in Egypt.

“Medication against hepatitis C saves lives, let’s put an end to the waiting lists,” the Argentina skipper said on his official Facebook page.

Messi has signed to become the ambassador for Tour n’ Cure, the Egyptian initiative said on its website.

The programme offers treatment for hepatitis C patients from all over the world “with no waiting time and at a fraction of the cost,” it said.

It also promoted “the opportunity to take in the beauty of Egypt and visit historic landmarks during the days of the treatment, while enjoying a relaxing stay at a 5-star hotel”.

Hepatitis C affects 130 to 150 million people globally and can result in liver cirrhosis or cancer.

Messi’s visit to Egypt was initially scheduled for December, but the footballer postponed it after a suicide bombing of a Cairo church killed 29 people.

He again deferred the visit last week after Barca’s heavy defeat by PSG, Egypt’s tourism ministry said, but did not give any reason for the postponement.

With a crucial game at Atletico Madrid coming up on Sunday, however, Messi will be back in Spain shortly to prepare for the trip to the Vicente Calderon.