Joe Lycett has urged David Beckham to end his support of the Qatar World Cup, putting £10,000 of his own money on the line. The queer comedian has said that should the former England star continue to endorse the tournament, the aforementioned sum of money will be shredded, however, should the ex-footballer cut ties, the cash will be donated to charity.
Beckham reportedly signed a multimillion-pound deal with Qatar to promote the event, a move which is seen as hugely controversial due to the Gulf nation’s track record of abusing migrant workers, women and LGBTQ+ people. In a video entitled, ‘A message to David Backham.’ Lycett explains that, up to this point, the player has been somewhat of a “gay icon” and prominent ally within the footballing sphere – a space that is not traditionally known as being queer-friendly.
“You were the first premiership footballer to do shoots with gay magazines like Attitude, to speak openly about your gay fans, and you married a Spice Girl which is the gayest thing a human being can do,” the comedian states.
Although Beckham’s role as a World Cup ambassador has jeopardised his status within the community, Lycett is giving him the opportunity to salvage his reputation.
“You have always talked about the power of football as a force for good,” he continues. “Generally, I agree. So with that in mind, I’m giving you a choice.
“If you end your relationship with Qatar, I will donate 10 grand of my own money (that’s a grand for every million you’re reportedly getting) to charities that support queer people in football.
“However, if you do not, I will throw the money into a shredder at midday next Sunday, just before the opening ceremony of the World Cup, and stream it live”. Lycett has set up a website, BendersLikeBeckham.com, where he will broadcast the event, should David Beckham not take appropriate action. Currently, the page displays a countdown timer to the opening ceremony on November 20, as well as the video in question and its transcription.
“Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon will be shredded,” he remarks.
“Also, you’ll be forcing me to commit what might be a crime. Although, even then, I reckon I’ll get off more lightly than I would if I got caught whacking off a lad in Doha.”
The video powerfully concludes: “The choice is yours. I look forward to hearing from you.”
— Joe Lycett (@joelycett) November 13, 2022
Beckham’s deal with Qatar upset many football fans worldwide, with Di Cunningham, co-founder of the England national team’s biggest LGBTQ+ supporters’ group, stating: “I’m just so disappointed because we – the LGBTQ+ football family – have put David Beckham on a pedestal, as a great ally. And then it turns out that he’s taking a lot of money to be an ambassador for this World Cup, and that’s incredibly disappointing.”
🇶🇦 The group also called David Beckham's involvement "disappointing" after previously seeing him as a great LGBTQ+ ally. pic.twitter.com/dU7C8RT8U1
— Openly 🏳️🌈 (@Openly) November 10, 2022
FIFA’s decision to grant Qatar hosting rights has been continuously criticised in the lead-up to the tournament, with many teams, players and fans making their opposition clear. However, the governing body appears to be taking action to minimise the protests, and has most recently rejected Denmark’s request to wear training tops sporting the slogan “Human Rights for All”. The nation will still wear minimalised versions of their match kits, including a strip in black, the “colour of mourning”, in a display of solidarity with those vulnerable in Qatar.
FIFA’s policy states that any team equipment, including clothing, must not feature political, religious or personal messages or images, but President of the Danish Football Association, Jakob Jensen, has said: “We don’t think there’s any politics in it.
“We think that the human rights are universal, and we stand by this view. FIFA had a different assessment and sadly we had to take that into consideration.”
FIFA’s human rights policy authorises anyone to protect & promote all internationally-recognised human rights.
Human rights are not political.
Denmark should go ahead.
As should all teams, including Australia. https://t.co/X3xf9OuDa1
— Craig Foster (@Craig_Foster) November 10, 2022
Captains of various nations are expected to wear rainbow OneLove armbands during the tournament, to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. Speaking about the significance of England frontman Harry Kane taking part in the initiative, star of the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team, Katie McCabe, said: “The World Cup is a world stage. Obviously, Harry Kane wearing the rainbow captain’s armband will be massive and I think it will raise visibility over the key issues in Qatar right now and I hope other nations do that and take a stand while playing games.”
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