‘I wouldn’t have done it’: Gary Lineker questions David Beckham’s lucrative World Cup deal with Qatar
David Beckham is facing renewed pressure over his lucrative World Cup deal with Qatar after Gary Lineker blasted the desert kingdom’s woeful human rights record.
In an outspoken attack, Lineker said he ‘vehemently disagreed’ with the authoritarian regime.
Asked about Beckham’s decision to become a cultural ambassador for the emirate, which persecutes gay and trans people, he replied: ‘It’s not something I would have done but it’s his business.’
David Beckham is facing renewed pressure over his lucrative World Cup deal with Qatar after Gary Lineker blasted the desert kingdom’s woeful human rights record
The BBC Match Of The Day presenter said he would not be bought by Qatar at any price. ‘Will I do stuff for Qatar in the World Cup? Absolutely not. Whatever they wanted to pay me, the answer would be no.’
His intervention will come as a blow to Beckham, who was challenged last month by Amnesty International to speak out about the ‘deeply concerning’ situation in Qatar, which also discriminates against women and migrant workers. Ironically, in 2009 the pair teamed up to help launch England’s ill-fated bid to host the 2018 World Cup tournament, which went to Russia.
But Beckham, 46, is not the only major figure in football to face criticism for remaining silent.
Despite entreaties from human rights groups, players including England captain Harry Kane – who has supported campaigns against homophobia and racism – have so far resisted calls to publicly condemn the abuses.
So too have TV presenters and pundits who, like Lineker, are expected to cover the month-long finals which start next November. Gary Neville, likely to be an ITV pundit, last week turned down another opportunity from The Mail on Sunday.
However, on his podcast last week, Neville discussed Qatar’s neighbour Saudi Arabia, whose authoritarian ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairs the group that has taken over Newcastle United.
Highlighting the country’s ‘terrible’ human rights record, Neville pointed out there was ‘a gay man currently in jail in Saudi Arabia’. He added: ‘They’ve got to change those things as part of coming into English football.’
Neville, 46, also suggested the Premier League and UK Government now ‘get around the table’ to ensure Saudi people are ‘treated properly’. Notably, though, he made no mention of Qatar in his speech.
Beckham attracted widespread criticism last month after the MoS revealed details of a series of meetings he attended in Qatar, where he also filmed promotional footage.
In an interview with The Sun yesterday, Lineker, 60, said of the decision to award Qatar the World Cup: ‘We know it was a corrupt bid. We shouldn’t be there, but it is there, and I’ll go and report on it from there.
‘Will I support the Qatar World Cup in a sense of all that? No, because they’ve got too many fundamental human rights wrong.’