David Beckham under fire for his £150m ambassadorial deal with Qatar as calls mount for him to be removed from his UNICEF role over country’s poor human rights record with England icon also accused of sportswashing as he prepares to front 2022 World Cup
- David Beckham is expected to reveal a £150 million deal with Qatar next month
- It will see him be a leading figure in the country’s build-up to the 2022 World Cup
- However his decision is being widely criticised over Qatar’s human rights record
- Some have also accused Man United icon of being duplicit in sportswashing
David Beckham has come in for severe criticism after he agreed a £150million deal to become an ambassador for the country over the next decade, which will result in him being the face of the 2022 World Cup.
The Manchester United icon is being accused of duplicity in the country’s sportswashing campaign, while others have called for him to be removed from his role with UNICEF.
The England legend was pictured in the country earlier this month, taking in various sights including some of the stadiums to be used for next year’s tournament.
According to The Sun, Beckham will have an official role as part of a deal to be announced next month that will also see him promote tourism and culture in Qatar.
David Beckham is believed to have agreed a £150 million deal to be an ambassador for Qatar
The England legend was pictured in the country earlier this month being shown around
It’s reported that the 46-year-old was told rainbow flags would be allowed at the World Cup, in a country which has faced criticism for its human rights record, especially towards gay people and women.
‘David has always talked about the power of football as a force for good on many levels,’ a spokeswoman for Beckham told The Sun.
‘As we reach the one year to go point he will join the wider football community that is coming together for the World Cup 2022 and he’s looking forward to what he thinks will be a great tournament.’
However, many have voiced their concern over one of the world’s most recognisable sports stars becoming the face of an event that many consider to be an unashemed attempt at sportswashing.
As part of the deal it is expected that Beckham will become the face of the 2022 World Cup
Taking to Twitter, the account End Sportswashing wrote: ‘Very disappointing decision by David Beckham to sell his image to this #sportswashing exercise.
‘He should instead be using his position to draw attention to Qatar’s human rights record and treatment of it’s migrant workers.’
As well as their poor human rights record over their own citizens, Qatar’s bid to get ready for the World Cup next winter has shone a light on their treatment of migrant workers.
The country continues to insist that conditions for workers are of their highest priority, however, numerous investigations have found this not to be the case, and there is evidence that the number of deaths of migrant workers is being under reported.
Beckham’s decision to accept the position has also seen people call into question his role with UNICEF.
One user on Twitter commented: ‘@UNICEF Your ‘ambassador’ David Beckham has just taken £22 million from Qatar to ‘promote’ the World Cup, a country with horrendous human rights violations.
‘Will you now remove him from this conflict of interest?’
Another wrote: ‘What a shame. Someone we all felt reasonably good about decided to sell it all for some Middle East wedge. A guy who is literally an ambassador for UNICEF. Wow.’
Beckham’s relationship with Qatar is not a new one, stemming back to his time as a player at Paris Saint-Germain.
It is understood the ambassadorial deal came about as a result of Beckham’s close friendship with the Qatari president of PSG, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, when the former Manchester United star played for the club in 2013.
The pair were photographed laughing together at an international match in Qatar in 2019 and Beckham has become a frequent visitor to the country – he is due back in Qatar next month to watch the Formula One Grand Prix hosted by the desert state.
Beckham became close with Qatari president of PSG, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, in his time in France
Speaking in 2019 about the World Cup in Qatar, Beckham spoke of his jealously at not getting the chance to be there as a player.
He said: ‘I think as a player and a fan you want to visit a World Cup competition with great facilities, safe facilities, great hotels and great culture – and that’s what Qatar is all about.
‘I wish I was still playing because to play in stadiums like this, it’s a dream. Players are going to be spoilt.’