David Beckham praises Qatar, where gay people can be executed, as ‘perfection’

David Beckham rides a motorbike in Qatar

David Beckham is facing fresh backlash for promoting Qatar as a “perfect” tourist destination, despite the country’s abysmal record on LGBTQ+ and women’s rights.

In 2021, David Beckham signed a deal, reportedly worth £150 million, to become the “face of Qatar” ahead of this year’s World Cup.

The former footballer and self-described “gay icon” was widely criticised for agreeing to advertise one of the most dangerous places in the world to be LGBTQ+, and this week the backlash returned as his Qatar campaign continued.

In a series of short promotional videos for Visit Qatar released on Monday (29 August), Beckham praises the “best spice market he’s ever been to”, describes the country as “perfection”, and nods along as a falcon trainer tells him: “Kindness is a part of the culture, and it’s important to keep the kindness alive.”

Whether kindness is top priority in Qatar – where gay people can face the death penalty under Sharia law and unmarried women are not allowed to leave the country without their father’s permission – is questionable.

Despite Qatar’s terrifying human rights record, Beckham is also, alarmingly, a UNICEF ambassador.

Domestic abuse campaigner David Challen was among those to challenge Beckham on his choice to promote the country.


“After Jake Daniels became the first male professional football player to come out since Justin Fashanu in 1990, Beckham asked why gay people in sport should be any different to anyone else,” Challen added.

“Yet he is now the face of an openly homophobic nation in Qatar.

“Sportswashing is inherently wrong. Those who promote nations with horrific human rights records actively silence those who are discriminated against, harmed and killed, all for more money.”

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