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David Beckham fails to apologise for Qatar deal as he responds to backlash in ‘tone deaf’ statement

"Beyond disappointing" is Attitude editor Cliff Joannou's verdict on Beckham's statement, which the footballing icon issued via a spokesperson. Read it in full here

By Jamie Tabberer

David Beckham
David Beckham's deal with Qatar is reported to be worth millions (Image: wiki)

David Beckham has responded to criticism of his multimillion Qatari ambassadorship, with a statement issued via his spokesperson dismissed by Attitude’s editor as “insultingly benign” and “tone deaf.”

The former England player has received huge backlash for being the face of World Cup host country Qatar, where gay sex is punishable by the death penalty under Sharia law.

In protest, comedian Joe Lycett [pictured below], who is publicly gay, last month shredded copies of Attitude magazine from 2003 with Beckham on the cover.

Joe Lycett in his Channel 4 Christmas special (Image: Channel 4/Rob Parfitt)

Now, with England having crashed out of the World Cup earlier this month, Beckham has spoken out on the row, via a statement supplied to the Joe Lycett vs Beckham: Got Your Back at Xmas Channel 4 Christmas special.

“Greater understanding and empathy”

A spokesperson for Beckham told the programme: “David has been involved in a number of World Cups and other major international tournaments both as a player and an ambassador and he has always believed that sport has the power to be a force for 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.”

Joe Lycett vs Beckham: Got Your Back at Xmas aired today (Image: Channel 4 / Rob Parfitt)

“Beyond disappointing”

Responding to Beckham’s statement, Attitude editor Cliff Joannou today said: “David’s statement is insultingly benign, extremely tone deaf and beyond disappointing.”

Joannou continued: “When a FIFA World Cup ambassador describes homosexuality as ‘a disease of the mind’, we are a long way off from the unity that Beckham’s ill-informed spokesperson desires.

“In their statement, they also highlight how football has a ‘genuine ability to bring people together and make a real contribution to communities’ – perhaps they could begin by donating Beckham’s alleged £150m deal to the oppressed communities they wish to help? This statement, from Beckham’s spokesperson and not attributed to the former England captain himself, fails to address a lived reality that is very different for millions of oppressed people.”

Joe Lycett vs Beckham: Got Your Back at Xmas aired on Channel 4 on Thursday 15 December at 9pm.