Joe Lycett: comedian responds to The Sun ‘hypocrisy’ claims over gigs in Qatar after David Beckham criticism

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Joe Lycett criticised former footballer David Beckham for his links with World Cup host Qatar given the country’s treatment of LGBTQ+ people.

Comedian Joe Lycett has hit back at reports accusing him of hypocrisy over his criticism of David Beckham.

The stand-up, 34, recently pretended to shred £10,000 in protest of Beckham’s links with football World Cup host country Qatar, where it is illegal to be gay. The Middle Eastern nation also has a troubling human rights record in relation to its treatment of women and migrant workers.

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But on Tuesday (20 December) The Sun criticised Lycett by claiming that he had been paid for gigs in the controversial country himself some seven years ago. The newspaper suggested he may have to “eat his words” as a result.

What did Joe Lycett say?

Responding on Twitter, Lycett sarcastically wrote: “Oops! I’ve been caught out by The Sun!

“I did two gigs in Doha in 2015 and kept it entirely secret by writing about it in my own book and mentioning it in multiple interviews including with the NY Times! If you’re interested, I was paid a few hundred quid (not by Qatar but by UK comedy promoters) but it was 2015 and that went a lot further back then.

“I reckon that if a popular comedian from those days (e.g. Shane Ritchie) had shredded a few hundred quid to persuade me not to go, it would have made a difference. But who can say? I don’t have the perfect hindsight and spotless morality of, to pick a completely random example, The Sun newspaper.”

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Comedian Joe Lycett has clapped back at reports accusing him of hypocrisy over his criticism of David Beckham. Credit: Getty ImagesComedian Joe Lycett has clapped back at reports accusing him of hypocrisy over his criticism of David Beckham. Credit: Getty Images
Comedian Joe Lycett has clapped back at reports accusing him of hypocrisy over his criticism of David Beckham. Credit: Getty Images | Getty Images

Lycett first condemned Beckham in November over his promotion of tourism in Qatar. He then issued an ultimatum over the former England captain’s controversial multi million pound deal with the country, asking him to pull out or watch as Lycett shredded £10,000.

When Beckham did not respond, the comedian released a video which appeared to show him shredding the cash. However, Lycett later revealed “the truth” about the video - that it was a hoax and he had already donated the money to LGBTQ+ charities.

Since then, a statement has been released on behalf of Beckham. It said: “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.”

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David Beckham in the stadium stands in Qatar, alongside Luis Figo and Robbie Keane, prior to the match between Croatia and Morocco. Credit: Getty ImagesDavid Beckham in the stadium stands in Qatar, alongside Luis Figo and Robbie Keane, prior to the match between Croatia and Morocco. Credit: Getty Images
David Beckham in the stadium stands in Qatar, alongside Luis Figo and Robbie Keane, prior to the match between Croatia and Morocco. Credit: Getty Images | Getty Images

Lycett’s stunt was widely covered by news outlets and led to him presenting a programme on Channel 4 called Joe Lycett vs Beckham: A Got Your Back Christmas Special. Here, he called him a “disgrace” and said: “I am angry at his blatant hypocrisy and failure to be an ally to the LGBTQ community.” It was during this show that Beckham’s response statement was first aired.

In The Sun’s report, the newspaper shared the comments of social media users who blasted Lycett for “hypocrisy” following his cash-shredding. Melanie Sweeting for example said she did not “understand” Lycett’s anger considering he had previously performed in Qatar, commenting: “You didn’t seem to have a problem taking Qatari money that night?”

Meanwhile, James Sutherland wrote: “Many people sharing Joe Lycett’s publicity stunt shaming David Beckham. In 2015 he performed stand-up in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. By all means feel free to criticise David Beckham, but don’t be a hypocrite about it.”

Lycett has previously mentioned his gigs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar in his autobiography, published in 2016. He also claimed in his tweet that he was paid by comedy promoters in the UK, and not by Qatar.

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