David Beckham has reportedly signed a deal worth £150 million to become the “face of Qatar” ahead of next year’s World Cup. Although it is still unclear what duties the role will involve, he will reportedly earn £15 million a year for the next decade.
Beckham, who in 2007 said he was “honoured to have the tag of gay icon” and is an ambassador for UNICEF, spent a week in Qatar this month, one of the most dangerous places in the world to be LGBT.
Homosexuality is completely outlawed in Qatar and can be punished by imprisonment, flogging or death. LGBT relationships have no legal recognition, and queer people have no protection from discrimination. Muslim men who engage in same-sex relations can be punished with the death penalty under Sharia law.
As well as LGBT people, women in Qatar suffer countless human rights abuses. The regime treats women as second-class citizens. It requires them to get the permission of a male guardian to study, marry and travel.
On this report, LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said that although the footballer had “supported our battle for equality when many others did not”, his decision “to act as an ambassador for a homophobic regime like Qatar is a big blow”.
David Beckham's decision contrasts with the recently announcement made by Tom Daley, who decided to try and ensure that countries which criminalise homosexuality and the LGBT community can’t compete in and host big sporting events in the future.