Beckham faces backlash over deal to promote Qatar and 2022 World Cup

David Beckham faces new backlash over £10million deal to promote Qatar and 2022 World Cup as authoritarian Gulf state’s restrictions on women’s and LGBT rights is criticised

  •  David Beckham is bracing himself for a backlash when he promotes Qatar and next year’s World Cup at the Grand Prix in Doha
  •  The former football star has been criticised by human rights groups after signing a £10 million-plus deal to be an ambassador for Qatar
  •  The authoritarian Gulf state, which bans homosexuality and severely restricts women’s rights

David Beckham is bracing himself for a backlash when he promotes Qatar and next year’s World Cup at the Formula One Grand Prix in Doha tomorrow.

The former football star has been criticised by human rights groups after signing a £10 million-plus deal to be an ambassador for the authoritarian Gulf state, which bans homosexuality and severely restricts women’s rights.

But he seems set to ignore the critics and appear among VIPs at the Grand Prix. Beckham is believed to be in the country but he was not spotted among spectators during qualifying laps yesterday when his friend Lewis Hamilton qualified for pole position.

David Beckham is bracing himself for a backlash when he promotes Qatar and next year’s World Cup at the Formula One Grand Prix in Doha tomorrow

The authoritarian Gulf state bans homosexuality and severely restricts women’s rights

Usually prolific on social media, the 46-year-old has yet to post about his Middle East visit, in which he is expected to meet Hamilton.

On Friday, Beckham told his 69 million followers he had completed a gruelling exercise class, but without specifying his location.

Sources have told The Mail on Sunday that Beckham’s advisers have used the World Cup to ‘position’ his controversial deal as about celebrating football, despite it being tied to promoting Qatar.

One said: ‘It all seems a little more palatable for David to associate the contract with football and make it all about a festival of football.’

Amnesty International has accused the Football Association of failing to engage with it over human rights abuses in Qatar – unlike associations in other countries.

The former football star has been criticised by human rights groups after signing a £10 million-plus deal to be an ambassador for Qatar

May Romanos, Amnesty International’s Gulf researcher for migrant rights, told the BBC’s Sports Desk podcast: ‘We had a meeting with the English FA in March last year, where we started the conversation around the role they could play in the lead-up to this World Cup. But we haven’t had any further engagement with them, unlike other FAs.’

But the FA said it was ‘categorically incorrect’ to claim there has been no dialogue since March 2020, adding: ‘We are in dialogue with Amnesty and also with FIFA, UEFA, other member associations and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.’

It said it would approach the tournament in ‘a socially responsible manner’, adding: ‘We believe there is evidence of substantial progress being made by Qatar in relation to workers’ rights, however we recognise there is still more to be done.’

England manager Gareth Southgate has said he and his players would ‘take time to educate ourselves’ over human rights issues. Human rights groups believe 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died on building sites in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup ten years ago.

A British paramedic, who worked for Qatar’s health service for three years, claimed he was regularly sent to deal with dead bodies bearing injuries consistent with being crushed or falling from a height. He said: ‘The police would always say, “It’s an assault, or heart failure, or a collapse”, when it clearly was not.’

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