Comedian Joe Lycett has defended his David Beckham Qatar stunt after being accused of hypocrisy by The Sun for performing in the country back in 2015.
The records show Lycett performing in Qatar’s capital Doha in an event organised by comedy promoters The Laughter Factory, which he has since spoken publicly about.
Some have called him a hypocrite for performing paid gigs there after holding David Beckham to account for accepting a multi-million dollar deal with the Qatar FIFA World Cup.
Given Qatar’s track record of anti-LGBTQ+ laws, Lycett threatened to shred £10,000 if Beckham did not pull out, but ended up donating the money to LGBTQ+ charities instead.
Last week the saga came to a close when Lycett read a statement from Beckham justifying his partnership with Qatar on a special edition of Got Your Back. Now, it seems it’s Lycett’s turn to defend himself.
Taking to social media to respond to accusations of hypocrisy, Lycett set the record straight on his involvement.
“Oops! I’ve been caught out by The Sun!” he wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.
“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 (eg 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.”
Joe Lycett did in fact discuss the gigs in a recent profile with The New York Times saying “I didn’t feel safe there” and reminiscing on how he was advised not to leave his hotel.
In his book, Parsnips, Buttered, he spoke about being aware of the human rights abuses but makes jokes about them.
“The punishment for homosexuality in these countries is oft jail,” he wrote, “the logic of which I’ve never understood. ‘Oh, you like men? We’ll put you in a box with some.’ Not exactly a punishment, lads!”
Fans are divided over Lycett’s statement with some maintaining it is not good enough, while others have pointed out the difference between a small UK-paid gig and Beckham’s high-profile deal.
“There’s no hypocrisy here, you may have done a gig in the country, he [Beckham] actively promoted that country to a global audience,” one person wrote.
Another countered: “You performed in a country that you have condemned. Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”