Gay footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger says taking money from ‘sick’ Qatar is wrong

Thomas Hitzlsperger, Gary Neville and David Beckham around the World Cup

Gay footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger is adding to the voices calling out the likes of David Beckham for taking money from Qatar.

Beckham’s deal to be an ambassador for World Cup host Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal, is reportedly worth £150m.

Hitzlsperger, who came out as gay after retiring from football, told The Guardian that Qatar hosting World Cup is “not just sad, it’s sick”.

The nation is presenting itself “as something they’re not”, the former Premier League and Germany player said.

His comments were more broadly targeted towards FIFA, Qatar, and those being paid by either body.

“You can’t be paid by Qatar or FIFA and at the same time criticism them, it doesn’t make sense,” he said.

He said that he wouldn’t take up any offer to go to Qatar to cover the World Cup, as Gary Neville has done, adding: “I had the option, I wouldn’t: it just doesn’t feel right after what I have seen, the things I have said in public.”

Hitzlsperger has been in Qatar and Nepal filming a documentary and questioned the state of worker environments in both.

Germany's midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger shouts during the World Cup 2010 qualifying match Liechtenstein vs Germany in Vaduz, Liechtenstein on September 6, 2008.AFP PHOTO DDP / OLIVER LANG (Photo credit should read OLIVER LANG/AFP/Getty Images)

Thomas Hitzlsperger. (Getty)

In 2021 it was reported that more than 6,500 migrant workers, including those from Nepal, had died in Qatar since it was named World Cup host in 2010.

“I met a young woman there who tried to show me how open it was and when worker deaths came up, she said the criticism was not justified.

“She even used the phrase ‘fake news’,” he said. “She thinks the West is against Qatar.”

Hitzlsperger wants to know why teams have not boycotted the tournament. He mentioned how Qatari officials have reassured everyone will be safe.

“What world are we living in?! That someone had to give a guarantee!”

Other prominent names have called David Beckham out for his Qatar deal, including comedian Joe Lycett.

Lycett is currently threatening to shred £10,000 of his own money by midday Sunday (20 November) if Beckham does not back out of the deal.

He revealed on Wednesday (16 November) that he has not “heard a peep” from Beckham since making the ultimatum three days prior.

“There’s still time for David and his team to do the right thing,” Lycett said.

Great British Bake Off and Strictly Come Dancing star John Whaite also publicly condemned Beckham, telling Metro the deal was “disgusting”.

“Shame on him,” Whaite added.

LGBTQ+ football fans have also been vocal about the deal, including the group England fan group Three Lions Pride.

Co-founder Di Cunningham said she was “disappointed” – partly because “we – the LGBTQ+ football family – have put David Beckham on a pedestal, as a great ally”.

“I really hope that the message has got through that people will be criticised for that [taking money to be an ambassador for the World Cup],” Cunningham said at a  press briefing earlier this month (via the Guardian).