David Beckham slammed by England LGBTQ+ fans group over Qatar deal: ‘I’m just so disappointed’

David Beckham with Nasser al-Khelaifi, chairman of Qatar Sports Investments

A fan group for LGBTQ+ England fans has hit out at David Beckham over his Qatar World Cup deal.

Three Lions Pride co-founder Di Cunningham says she was “disappointed” the ex-footballer signed a “face of Qatar” deal, thought to be worth £150m, while knowing the country criminalises same-sex relationships. 

In Qatar queer people can be jailed for up to seven years for having sex, and under Sharia law those who have same-sex relations can even be sentenced to death. 

“One of the difficulties is having people taking the money in order to promote Qatar and the World Cup,” Cunningham said at a Sport & Rights Alliance press briefing on 9 November (via the Guardian)

“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 that he’s taking a lot of money to be an ambassador for this World Cup, and that’s incredibly disappointing. So I really hope that the message has got through that people will be criticised for that.”

Three Lions Pride travelled to Russia for the World Cup in 2018, but Cunningham has said the group won’t go to Qatar as there was “no sign – as there was in Russia – of any appetite to relax or review the toxic environment there is for LGBTQ+ and other minority groups”. 

Minky Worden from Human Rights Watch called on FIFA to never play in a country that doesn’t “uphold basic human rights”, warning that it means “athletes are effectively hostages”.

“They are lashed to the ship of FIFA and they have to go wherever the World Cup or the Club World Cup goes. And I think for many fans, athletes and others, the past decade has been a very bitter lesson,” Worden added.

Cunningham praised players such as German footballer Leon Goretzka who have stood up for LGBTQ+ rights ahead of the tournament kicking off in Qatar on Sunday, 20 November. 

It follows a Qatar World Cup ambassador saying homosexuality is “damage in the mind”.