David Beckham finally responded to Joe Lycett’s campaign for him to withdraw his Qatar World Cup deal – and the internet is not impressed.
The former England captain has been heavily criticised for taking a multi-million ambassador role in the 2022 World Cup given Qatar’s anti-LGBTQ stance. After issuing Beckham with an ultimatum on 13 November, Lycett threatened to shred £10,000 of his own money in protest if he did not pull out, but the footballer has refused to address the public spectacle.
That all changed yesterday (15 December), when Beckham released an exclusive statement to Joe Lycett’s team which was broadcast during the most recent episode of his Channel 4 special Got Your Back.
The pitiful statement, written on behalf of Beckham by a spokesperson, failed to justify his involvement with Qatar and instead suggested it was a net positive that debate was stirring about ‘key issues’.
“David has been involved in a number of World Cups and other major international tournaments both as a player and an ambassador and he’s always believed that sport has the power to be a force for good in the world,” the statement began.
“Football, the most popular sport globally, has a genuine ability to bring people together and make a real contribution to communities.
David Beckham attends the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 semifinal. (Jean Catuffe/Getty)
“We understand that there are different and strongly held views about engagement in the Middle East but see it as positive that debate about the key issues has been stimulated directly by the first World Cup being held in the region.
“We hope that these conversations will lead to greater understanding and empathy towards all people and that progress will be achieved.”
Lycett, whose programme gave a platform to the first out gay Qatari man and trans comedian Jordan Gray, issues a damning message to so-called allies.
“I want to talk about allies,” he began in the closing statement of the episode, “particularly companies and celebrities who like to think they are our allies to our community, who are happy to slap a rainbow on when it doesn’t cost them anything but looked the other way when it came to the World Cup.
“What I say is we need allies, but allies we can rely on not to run away the moment it looks difficult or when the first yellow card is threatened.
“We need everyone to be our allies and we need them to remember that being an ally is for life not just for Christmas specials.”
The message rings particularly true for Beckham who was once cover star for the LGBTQ+ magazine Attitude. Although Lycett didn’t truly end up shredding £10,000, he did shred the magazine cover instead to show his disgust at the footballer’s complicity.
The comedian also showed solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community by calling out teams who decided to not wear a simple rainbow band for fear of being threatened with a yellow card.
How has the internet reacted?
Many on social media have praised Joe Lycett and called out David Beckham for his woeful statement.
“Just finished watching the Joe Lycett special and agreed with every word. You could hear the anger and pain in his voice at the end… Oh, and f**k you David Beckham,” one person wrote.
While another added: “Joe Lycett’s closing statement on his show tonight, was so f*cking powerful. Keep fighting the good fight.”
One person went as far as to say: “I think Joe Lycett is well on the way to become the most significant public figure in Britain in this generation.
“Sitting at a specific point between mainstream comedy and subversive performance art, I’m struggling to think of anyone else like him.”