Joe Lycett shreds £10,000 following David Beckham ultimatum
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England icon David Beckham has released a statement regarding his ambassador role to Qatar during the World Cup, finally responding to Joe Lycett’s stunt when the comedian shredded £10,000 in protest of Beckham’s controversial association with the Qataris. The former Manchester United star has been criticised for receiving a reported £150million fee to promote the country, despite its stance on human rights and the tournament host’s LGBTQ+ record.
Lycett previously shredded £10,000 and revoked Beckham’s status as a “gay icon” after the ex-Three Lions captain did not respond to his ultimatum over ending the contract with Qatar. Lycett later revealed that the money was fake, and he had donated it to LGBTQ+ charities, as same-sex relationships are criminalised in Qatar.
Beckham’s spokesperson responded to the stunt in the comedian’s Joe Lycett vs David Beckham: Got You Back at Xmas show: “David has been involved in a number of World Cups and other major international tournaments both as a player, and as an ambassador, and he has always believed that sport has the power to be a force of good in the world. Football, the most popular sport globally, has a genuine ability to bring people together and make a real contribution to communities.
“We understand that there are different and strongly-held views about engagement in the Middle East, but see it as positive that debate about the key issues has been stimulated directly by the first World Cup being held in the region. We hope that these conversations will lead to greater understanding and empathy towards all people, and that progress will be achieved.”
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On Thursday before the Channel 4 show aired, Lycett explained that Beckham had issued a statement but the host was legally unable to give his opinion. “David Beckham’s team have issued my programme with an exclusive statement, which will be broadcast tonight as part of my Got Your Back special at 9pm on @channel4,” Lycett tweeted. “As far as we are aware this is the only statement he or his team have given to any outlet regarding his involvement in Qatar. I have been advised that legally I cannot give my opinion on it, so you’ll have to make up your own minds.”
Beckham, 47, has a 10-year deal with Qatar, and said of the tournament that concludes on Sunday: “Qatar dreamed of bringing the World Cup to a place that it had never been before, but that it wouldn’t be enough just to achieve things on the pitch. The pitch would be a platform for progress. Dreams can come true. That is why you are here.”
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In August, he appeared in a 30-minute promotional video that highlighted some of the landmarks and tourist spots in Qatar’s capital, Doha. Beckham was dubbed an icon within the LGBTQ+ community in 2002 when he became the first Premier League footballer to star on the cover of Attitude, a gay magazine. However, his status as an ally has come into question after his involvement with Qatar was brought to light.
Human rights activist Peter Tatchell, who visited Qatar to stage a protest and was stopped by five police officers, offered his opinion on Beckham’s partnership with Qatar. “Despite Qatar being a sexist, homophobic and racist dictatorship, he’s reportedly described it as ‘perfection’,” he said. “Beckham was once a LGBT+ ally and icon but no more. He’s taken his 30 pieces of silver. Putting money before principles, he seems driven solely by pure greed.”
Qatar also responded to Lycett with a statement. “Everyone is welcome in Qatar,” Lycett read the statement. “Our track record has shown that we have warmly welcomed all people, regardless of background.” Sponsors McDonald’s and Budweiser did not respond when asked by Lycett for comment.
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