Becklash: Football megastar Beckham risks ‘gay icon’ status, human rights ire after ‘$200 MILLION DEAL to promote Qatar World Cup’
Former England captain David Beckham has risked his credentials as a gay icon after reports claimed the football hero was set to be unveiled as a key promoter of the controversial 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The Beckham brand is already among the biggest amassed by any footballer past or present, as the 46-year-old ace plugs everything from supermarkets to sportswear.
Already estimated by some to be worth as much as $450 million, and helped by the profile of former pop star wife Victoria, Beckham’s wealth could swell considerably if reports from the UK are to be believed.
An exclusive in The Sun says that Beckham is penning a £15 million-per-year ($20.6 million) deal to promote the Qatar World Cup, as well tourism and culture in the Middle Eastern country across the next decade.
“David has always talked about the power of football as a force for good on many levels,” a spokeswoman for the star was quoted as saying.
"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.”
The Qatar 2022 footballing showpiece will be the first ever to be held in the Middle East.
The Gulf state is said to be spending as much as a staggering $300 billion on overall infrastructure as part of the project, but the venture has been a controversial one.
In football terms, the November-December format to avoid the searing summer heat will cause disruption, but most of the criticism has focused on human rights issues.
Reports have stated that 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup just over a decade ago – when ironically it beat a rival bid from England which featured Beckham as an integral part.
Elsewhere, there has been anger over taking football’s showpiece event to a country accused of widespread suppression of women’s and gay rights.Also on rt.com Denmark’s football team lashes out at Qatar World Cup bosses over human rights again – but they’re still not going to hold boycott
Citing a source, The Sun claims that Beckham “was assured fans would be safe and allowed to display rainbow flags in stadiums” and that Qatar is making efforts on inclusivity for women.
“David believes in Qatar’s commitment to progress and that the World Cup – the first to be held in the Arab world – can effect significant positive change,” the source was quoted as saying.
“He strongly believes in the power of football to bridge differences but, crucially, has seen the progress on issues that matter.”
But considering Beckham’s own image as something of an LGBT icon due to his ‘metrosexual’ dress trends and supposed liberal views, some are less convinced – accusing the famous number seven of taking Qatari cash over principles.
“Pretty dismal by Beckham,” wrote journalist Adam Crafton on Twitter.
“Hypocrisy in football and media response is staggering,” said one fan on social media.
"Very disappointing decision by David Beckham to sell his image to this #sportswashing exercise," argued another activist account.
"He should instead be using his position to draw attention to Qatar's human rights record and treatment of its migrant workers."
Another added: “Would be very disappointed in him if he did this."
Elsewhere, fans from Newcastle United were among those to pile on, citing the anger they've faced from fellow Premier League teams and supporters after being taken over by a Saudi-backed consortium.
“All the people crying about the Newcastle takeover must be furious about this, oh wait they won’t be,” claimed one Twitter user.
Beckham already has links to the Middle Eastern state, having seen out his career at the Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain.
Ahead of his reported unveiling as a key World Cup promoter, the former Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan and LA Galaxy star is said to have visited Doha to tour stadiums and meet dignitaries earlier this month.