'I knew there'd be questions' - David Beckham launches defence of $150m partnership with Qatar amid criticism from LGBTQ+ groups

David Beckham Inter Miami 2023Getty
  • Beckham defends Qatar partnership
  • Receives reported $150m for 10-year deal
  • 'I knew there'd be criticism'

WHAT HAPPENED? The former England captain and Inter Miami owner drew criticism from LGBTQ+ groups for striking a reported $150 million (£123m), 10-year deal with Qatar's tourist board ahead of the 2022 World Cup. Beckham has not spoken in public about the partnership before but broke his silence in an interview with The Telegraph to promote his new Netflix series.

WHAT THEY SAID: "I do a lot of research into partners that I’m going into business with. And I wanted to be involved in another World Cup. I like to see the game grow, and that means it going into territories it hasn’t been in before," Beckham said. "My philosophy has always been that you don’t exclude people, because if you don’t engage and you don’t give people the opportunity, then the world doesn’t change. Engagement with that, for me, is more important than dismissing it."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Beckham used to be seen as a gay icon and once appeared on the cover of Attitude magazine, so many members of the LGBTQ+ community felt betrayed when he struck the deal with the tourist board of Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal and gay people have been imprisoned. He said, however, that no one he met in Qatar complained of being persecuted for being gay.

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"Of course going into this, I knew there’d be questions, I knew there was going to be criticism, but I’ve always been a believer that football is such a powerful tool," he said. "I knew that once the World Cup started, not that it would go away, but it was all then about how people were treated, how people weren’t excluded, what an experience the World Cup would be," he said.

"I spent a month out there, and not one person came up to me and said, 'Oh my God, I’ve been treated like this, oh my God, I wasn’t allowed into this place…' I was around the LGBTQ community, I spoke to people on the ground. So I was happy with my decision."


David Beckham Man Utd 1998-99Getty David BeckhamGettyLionel Messi Inter Miami David BeckhamGetty

WHAT NEXT FOR BECKHAM? The docuseries 'Beckham' is released on Wednesday on Netflix. Inter Miami's next MLS fixture is against New York City on Saturday.