Human rights activists criticize soccer legend David Beckham for purportedly accepting a $277 million deal with Qatar Government to serve as its ambassador for the upcoming 2022 World Cup, The Mail reported on Sunday.
The former England captain is set to earn up to $21 million per year over the next decade for the role, which will involve promoting tourism and culture in the Middle Eastern country, according to The Sun.
Beckham visited Qatar’s capital Doha earlier this month to meet with dignitaries and examine stadiums in preparation for next year’s World Cup, according to reports. However, the athlete has come under fire for becoming the face of a country accused of rampant human rights violations.
In Qatar, homosexual actions between consenting men are prohibited and punishable by up to five years in prison. According to a US Department of State study on Qatar’s human rights standards, considerable limits on free expression exist, verified claims of forced labor continue, and there is widespread discrimination against women.
Veteran LGBTQ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told The Mail On Sunday that Beckham’s endorsement of Qatar in exchange for a lavish contract is “really disappointing” considering the country’s “dismal” human rights record.
“He has made a huge mistake. I hope he will think again,” Tatchell said. “This doesn’t square with his professed support for women’s and LGBT+ rights.”
Rothna Begum, senior women’s rights researcher at the campaign group Human Rights Watch, also expressed disappointment with the deal to The Daily Mail.
“Celebrities who are being paid to promote the Qatari state who consider themselves to be pro-women and pro-women’s rights should be using the opportunity and access to those in positions of power to enquire about things that are happening,” she stated.
Following Beckham’s new agreement with the Qatari Government, some Twitter users expressed concern whether it would be in conflict with his current role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.