‘Face of Qatar’ David Beckham says ‘more work to be done’ on homophobia in football
David Beckham has said he’s glad football has made strides on homophobia and racism since his 90s heyday.
In an interview with Evening Standard, Beckham said: “I played for 22 years, I saw a lot of racism and homophobia and do think it has changed.”
However, he added: “But there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
Beckham reflected on Blackpool player Jake Daniels coming out as gay.
The 17-year-old is the first active English male pro to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu 32 years ago, and his openness sparked a wave of headlines and praise.
Beckham said: “It’s a shame that when someone does come out that it’s such a strange thing… it shouldn’t be.”
He added: “At the end of the day there will be a huge amount of gay people in sports and why should they be any different from anyone else.”
David Beckham’s comments come after he signed a reported £150 million deal to become the “face of Qatar” ahead of it hosting the 2022 World Cup.
This is despite Qatar being an aggressively anti-LGBTQ+ nation with a history of human rights atrocities.
In Qatar, men can be flogged or imprisoned for being queer. Under Sharia law, Muslim men found to engage in same-sex relations can technically face the death penalty – though IGLA has reported it doesn’t “appear that any person has been executed for this reason or at all”.
Peter Tatchell, the veteran human rights campaigner, said that Beckham’s decision “to promote a homophobic and sexist regime like Qatar comes as a big shock”.
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Metro reported that Beckham received assurances that fans could fly LGBTQ+ flags at stadiums, but for many this is not enough.
Tatchell told the outlet: “Homosexuality is punishable in Qatar by three years in prison and there are secret gay conversion programmes that attempt to make gay people straight.”
He added: “People have been arrested for merely ‘looking gay’, it is not a nice regime. Women are treated as second class citizens, they have to get permission from a male guardian to study, marry and travel.
‘Since Qatar was granted the right to host the 2022 World Cup over 6,500 migrant workers have died, many on construction projects and more than two thirds of their deaths have been unexplained.’
Beckham will reportedly earn £15 million a year for 10 years as the face of Qatar.
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