Comedian and TV presenter Joe Lycett has said that David Beckham’s team have finally issued a response regarding his £10k Qatar ultimatum, four weeks after the deadline passed.
Lycett gave David Beckham an ultimatum over the former professional footballer’s controversial multi million pound deal with Qatar to promote the upcoming World Cup.
Beckham has been widely criticised for agreeing to be an ambassador for Qatar due to its ban on same-sex relationships and poor human rights record. Under the Penal Code 2004, same-sex sexual activity is prohibited, with a maximum penalty of seven years in prison - and even the death penalty for Muslims under sharia law.
This is everything you need to know.
What did David Beckham say about Qatar?
Beckham, historically, has supported LGBTQ+ fans and football players, something which further fuelled the criticism that arose in response to his multi million pound deal with Qatar to promote the 2022 World Cup, which kicked off on Sunday 20 November.
The former footballer was set to reportedly earn as much as £150 million as the Qatar World Cup ambassador. In September, Beckham appeared in a video to promote tourism in Qatar, in which he can be seen exploring the country.
In the clip, Beckham says: “Qatar really is an incredible place to spend a few days on a stopover. The modern and traditional fuse to create something really special. It’s one of the best spice markets that I have ever been to. This will go down as one of my favourite mornings. This is perfection. I cannot wait to bring my children back here.”
Of Beckham’s ambassadorship with Qatar, Three Lions Pride co-founder, Di Cunningham, said: “I’m just so disappointed because we - the LGBTQ+ football family - have put David Beckham on a pedestal, as a great ally. And then it turns out he’s taking a lot of money to be an ambassador for this World Cup, and that’s really disappointing.”
Dr Nas Mohamed, who became the first Qatari to publicly come out as gay earlier this year, wrote an open letter to Beckham, claiming that he was guilty of “taking money and looking the other way”. He added that Beckham should use his voice and “not be silent towards injustice”.
What was Joe Lycett’s ultimatum?
In a statement that was shared online prior to the start of the World Cup, Lycett addressed Beckham directly, stating that the footballer had a choice - either end his relationship with Qatar, in which case Lycett would donate £10,000 to charities that support LGBTQ+ people in football, or else the money would be shredded.
In a statement at the time, Lycett said: “This is a message to David Beckham. I consider you, along with Kim Woodburn and Monty Don, to be a gay icon. You were the first premiership footballer to do shoots with gay magazines like Attitude, to speak openly about your gay fans, and you married a Spice Girl which is the gayest thing a human being can do.
“But now it’s 2022 and you’ve signed a reported £10 million deal with Qatar to be their ambassador during the FIFA World Cup. Qatar was voted as the one of the worst places in the world to be gay - homosexuality is illegal, punishable by imprisonment, and if you’re Muslim, possibly even death.
“You have always talked about the power of football as a force for good. Which suggests to me you have never seen West Brom. But generally I agree - so with that in mind I’m giving you a choice. If you end your relationship with Qatar I will donate ten grand of my own money (that’s a grand for every million you’re reportedly getting) to charities that support queer people in football.
“However, if you do not I will throw the money into a shredder at midday next Sunday [20 November], just before the opening ceremony of the World Cup and stream it live on a website I’ve registered called BendersLikeBeckham.com. Not just the money, but also your status as gay icon will be shredded.
“Also you’ll be forcing me to commit what might be a crime. Although even then, I reckon I’ll get off more lightly than I would if I got caught whacking off a lad in Doha.
“The choice is yours. I look forward to hearing from you.”
Did Joe Lycett really shred £10,000?
After Beckham failed to respond to Lycett’s ultimatum, the comedian appeared to stand by his decision, sharing a video of himself shredding what appeared to be wads of cash. However, the following day, Lycett revealed that that wasn’t actually the case.
In a video shared on social media, Lycett said: “I haven’t quite told you the whole truth, because the truth is the money that went into the shredder was real, but the money that came out was fake.
“I would never destroy real money, I would never be so irresponsible. In fact, the £10,000 had already been donated to LGBTQ+ charities before I even pressed send on the initial tweet last week. I never expected to hear from you, it was an empty threat designed to get people talking. In many ways it was like your deal with Qatar David – total b******* from the start.
“There is one thing I’ll shred. This is your Attitude Magazine cover from June 2002, the first ever cover of a gay magazine with a Premier League footballer on it. I asked Attitude if I could shred it, and they were more than happy to oblige.”
Has David Beckham responded to Joe Lycett?
Lycett has claimed that Beckham’s team have officially issued a statement regarding the footballer’s relationship with Qatari.
In a series of tweets posted on Thursday (15 December) morning, Lycett wrote: “UPDATE: David Beckham’s team have issued my progamme with an exclusive statement, which will be broadcast tonight as part of my Got Your Back special at 9pm on @Channel4
“As far as we are aware this is the only statement he or his team have given to any outlet regarding his involvement in Qatar. I have been advised that legally I cannot give my opinion on it, so you’ll have to make up your own minds.
“We also speak to some LGBTQ+ football teams and Dr Nasser Mohamed, the first openly gay Qatari, who Beckham blocked on Instagram. We also reunite some of the cast of Footballers’ Wives lol.
“I’d like to thank the Got Your Back team at Channel 4 for their extraordinary hard work on this project.”