Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki
David Beckham has come under fire after reportedly signing a deal, worth £150 million, to be the face of the World Cup in Qatar next year, and will be announced as such next month.
The 46-year-old has apparently recently visited the country's capital, Doha, to explore stadiums and meet dignitaries.
Homosexuality is currently illegal in the country and punishable with up to three years in prison, or death under Sharia law.
"He strongly believes in the power of football"
According to The Sun, Beckham has signed a deal that will see him earn £15 million a year for the next 10 years, and part of the deal will involve Beckham promoting Qatar's tourism and culture.
A source told the paper that Beckham believes hosting the World Cup in the Middle Eastern country will lead to "positive change", adding that "he strongly believes in the power of football to bridge differences but, crucially, has seen the progress on issues that matter."
Sources also said that "by signing David, the hope is more westerners will be encouraged to see its beautiful beaches, vast expanses of sand dunes and incredible skyscrapers."
A spokeswoman for Beckham told the publication: "David has always talked about the power of football as a force for good on many levels.
"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.”
Campaigners have been calling on Becham to reconsider the deal, given the country's record on LGBTQ and human rights. Peter Tatchell was among them, asking Beckham to "think again!"
I join other campaigners & fans to criticise #DavidBeckham's £150 million deal to promote #Qatar football #WorldCup 2022. Qatar treats women as second class, 6,500 migrant workers have died & homosexuality is punishable by jail. Please think again David! https://t.co/G6k0uMw5RX— Peter Tatchell (@PeterTatchell) October 25, 2021
Last December, it was claimed by a representative for FIFA that rainbow flags would be permitted during the tournament, which takes place in Qatar from 21 November to 18 December 2022.
Joyce Cook, FIFA's chief social responsibility and education officer, who is gay, said at the time: "We will see a progressive change in all of those aspects and rainbow flags, t-shirts will all be welcome in the stadium - that's a given. They understand very well that is our stance."
The notion that is safe for LGBTQs to travel to Qatar for the World Cup, or that they are welcome, has angered many LGBTQ Qataris, many of whom feel like they have to live double lives every day in order to get by untroubled.
Speaking to The Independent, Hamad, a gay Qatari, said: "It really makes me angry. Why make it safe during the World Cup and we are here? They should make it safe for everyone all the time here. It’s shameful."
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