David Beckham’s “gay icon status” if the former England captain and Manchester United star continues in his role as Qatar’s World Cup ambassador, British comedian Joe Lycett said on Sunday.
In a video posted on TwitterLycett, a British comedian who describes himself as queer on his website, said he would donate £10,000 ($11,000) to charities supporting “queer people in football” or put the money towards the shredder along with “Beckham’s reputation as a gay icon.” if the ex-footballer did not cut ties with Qatar.
Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy recently told CNN that the 2022 World Cup “will be an inclusive and safe tournament” and said that “everyone is welcome, regardless of race, origin, religion, gender , orientation or nationality”.
World soccer’s governing body, FIFA, referred CNN to the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy for all comments related to Lycett’s criticism of Beckham and Qatar.
Beckham, contacted by CNN through his representatives, refused to comment on the criticism surrounding his ambassador.
CNN reached out to the Supreme Committee on Delivery and Legacy for comment, but has not heard back.
“Homosexuality is illegal, punishable by prison and, if you’re Muslim, possibly even death,” Lycett said in an Instagram post.
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report published in October documented alleged cases of beatings and sexual harassment. According to victims interviewed by Human Rights Watch, security forces allegedly forced transgender women to attend conversion therapy sessions at a government-sponsored behavioral health care center.
“Qatari authorities must end impunity for violence against LGBT people. The world is watching,” said Rasha Younes of Human Rights Watch.
A Qatari official told CNN that HRW’s allegations “contain information that is categorically and unequivocally false.”
The world’s only openly gay active professional footballer is concerned about the LGBTQ community ahead of Qatar 2022
– Source: CNN
Lycett, however, points to Beckham.
“You are the first Premiership footballer to do shoots with gay magazines like Attitude, to talk openly about your gay fans,” Lycett said.
“Now, it’s 2022. And you signed a £10 million ($11.7 million) deal with Qatar to be their ambassador during the FIFA World Cup.”
Under Qatari law, homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison.
Lycett said Beckham “has always talked about the power of football as a force for good” and encouraged him to use his platform to campaign for LGBTQ rights.
“If you don’t, next Sunday at noon [November 20, 2022]i’m going to throw that money into a shredder right before the opening ceremony of the world cup and stream it live to a website i’ve registered called benderslikebeckham.com.
Lycett is not the first person or group to criticize Beckham for his ambassadorship. Adelaide United player Josh Cavallo, who came out as gay last year, told CNN Sport he would like Beckham to use his platform to support the LGBTQ community rather than promoting the Qatari government .
“If someone like David Beckham with his platform comes around us and becomes an ally that we want him to be, it’s very helpful.
“If he could take that next step and show what he means to the LGBTQ community, that would be great.”
HRW has also recently highlighted “arbitrary detentions and ill-treatment” of LGBTQ people in Qatar.
“The start of the World Cup is just a few days away, but it’s a long time for the Qatari government to end its abuse of LGBT people,” HRW said in a press release in November.
“The Qatari authorities should publicly condemn violence against LGBT people and formally recognize that having same-sex sexual attraction is not a mental health condition.”