The former footballer’s spokesperson had previously sent a letter defending his role as the major global tournament’s ambassador.
English comedian Joe Lycett has been called out for his “hypocrisy” in criticising David Beckham’s role as the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 ambassador, having hosted his own gigs in Doha previously.
The Sun shared lines from Lycett’s memoir “Parsnips, Buttered: How to win at modern life, one email at a time,” where he spoke about his past performances in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Lycett, who relentlessly criticised Beckham’s deal as the tournament’s ambassador, had performed in Doha in 2015 while being well-aware of the country’s stance on the LGBTQ+ issue.
“Friends of mine had warned me about travelling to these countries, claiming that ‘they don’t like’, as one friend put it, ‘your lot,’” Lycett wrote in the memoir, as quoted by The Sun.
Years later, Lycett expressed his anger at the former footballer for “his blatant hypocrisy and failure to be an ally to the LGBTQ community.”
“It’s a very strange bandwagon to jump on when you’ve actually been to the place you’re so very vocally slagging off,” a source told The Sun.
David Beckham has defended his role as the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022’s ambassador by citing his belief in sports as “a force for good,” following a flurry of negative coverage from British media.
Last month Lycett issued Beckham with an ultimatum, where he threatened to shred £10,000 if Beckham did not withdraw from his role.
The comedian said that he would instead donate it to LGBTQ+ charities if Beckham complied. Lycett was then seen shredding the money, which he later said was fake.
Responding to the latest criticism, Lycett appeared to mock The Sun’s report saying he was open about his two performances in Qatar in both his book and an interview with The New York Times.
He defended his position on Twitter by maintaining that he was paid by “UK comedy promoters” and not the Qatari government, despite his protest over the country itself and its policies regarding the community he advocates for.
Continuing his defence, Lycett said “it was 2015 and that went a lot further back then.” This is despite his knowledge of Qatar’s policies, which he had recorded in his memoir.
“But who can say? I don’t have the perfect hindsight and spotless morality of, to pick a completely random example, The Sun newspaper,” Lycett added in his Twitter statement.
While Lycett has appeared to criticise The Sun, he had based his criticism of Beckham’s deal by citing such British tabloids’ reports over the alleged whooping £150 million the former footballer received.
The accurate sums of money were not disclosed to the public and the claims continued to circulate despite the absence of statements from Beckham or his team.
Last year, a source with knowledge confirmed to Doha News that the claims were based on ‘pure sensationalism’. The source said that the actual figure and duration of the deal is far from what has been reported by British media.
People on social media have joined in calling out the comedian.
“Disappointed but not surprised to read that Joe Lycett is a total hypocrite. Has himself taken the money to perform in Qatar and UAE despite publicly criticising and pulling publicity stunts against others. You’re a fake Joe,” one Twitter user said.
Another said, “And there it is. Never trust those who appoint themselves as moral arbiters.”
Beckham speaks up
Last week, Beckham’s spokesperson sent Lycett a statement that he read on a special edition of Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back on Channel 4.
The letter was the first time Beckham broke his silence on the criticism he faced for being a World Cup ambassador.
The spokesperson acknowledged the “different and strongly held views about engagement in the Middle East” while stressing the important role of sports in bringing people together.
“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,” read part of the statement, as quoted by ITV.
The letter went on to note that Beckham’s team sees the differing views “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,” the statement added.
The controversy surrounding Beckham’s role came months ahead of the World Cup, echoing other concerns raised mainly by media outlets from the West over Qatar’s hosting of the event.
The criticism came amid a wider campaign that has been slammed as “racist” and “unprecedented,” given that Qatar is the first Arab, Muslim country to host the event.
Qatar stood up to all critics by hosting what has been widely hailed as “the best World Cup ever”, in which Doha welcomed people from all over the world who united in their love for sports.