David Beckham is currently facing criticism for inking a £150 million / $277 million deal to become a global ambassador for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
In addition to lending his extremely marketable mug to the event, the 46-year-old former England captain will also be charged with promoting the country’s tourism in exchange for £15 million / $27.7 million per year over the next decade thereafter. So why all the fuss? Similar to the backlash faced by Roger Federer for his sponsorship deal with Credit Suisse – the latter of which is heavily invested in fossil fuels – and Formula 1 vis-a-vis “We Race As One”, it essentially comes down to contradictory values.
Through his own Victoria & David Beckham Charitable Trust, UNICEF, and beyond, the footballing legend has been known to take on numerous philanthropic endeavours to “drive change for the better.” Qatar, on the other hand, is quite controversial when it comes to human rights – particularly in the areas involving the abuse/pervasive discrimination towards the LGBTQ community (homosexuality being illegal), women, as well as issues concerning labour. According to The Sun, earlier this month, David Beckham made the journey to the nation’s capital Doha for a week of touring stadiums and meeting dignitaries ahead of next year’s tournament.
“David believes in Qatar’s commitment to progress and that the World Cup – the first to be held in the Arab world – can affect significant positive change,” an inside source has revealed; “progress” referring to the application of law against homosexuality becoming “more liberal” in addition to a growing female presence in government.
RELATED: David Beckham Is The New Face Of F45
“He strongly believes in the power of football to bridge differences but, crucially, has seen the progress on issues that matter.”
“By signing David, the hope is more westerners will be encouraged to see its beautiful beaches, vast expanses of sand dunes and incredible skyscrapers.”
It probably doesn’t help the bloke isn’t exactly short on a buck or sponsorship deal, either. Already backed by brands such as Tudor, Maserati, F45 – as well as retaining a net worth in the air space of $450 million – while associating with the World Cup for someone such as David Beckham makes perfect sense, many are questioning whether an explicit paid endorsement of Qatar is necessary.
“It’s not surprising that David Beckham wants to be involved in such a major football event, but we would urge him to learn about the deeply concerning human rights situation in Qatar and be prepared to speak out about it,” explains Sacha Deshmukh, CEO of Amnesty International (UK).
“Qatar’s human rights record is troubling – from the country’s longstanding mistreatment of migrant workers to its curbs on free speech and the criminalisation of same-sex relations. Qatar’s mistreatment of migrant workers – the people whose hard work is making the World Cup possible – is especially disturbing.”
“Despite some welcome reforms, migrant workers are still being left unpaid, and the authorities have failed to investigate thousands of deaths in the past decade despite evidence of links between premature deaths and unsafe, searingly-hot working conditions.”
“FIFA has an important role to play in helping to drive change in Qatar – especially in raising labour abuses associated with World Cup preparations. David Beckham should use his unique worldwide profile to keep the world’s focus on the human rights issues surrounding the matches, and not just the play on the pitch.”
“David has always talked about the power of football as a force for good on many levels,” a spokesperson for David Beckham has countered in regards to the headline-making Qatar deal; side note – the man has previously been linked with the Qataris during his time with Paris St-Germain.
“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.”