newspaper saidThe New York TimesThe reluctance of the former English football star, David Beckham, to speak publicly to defend hosting the 2022 World Cup was a source of concern for some Qatari officials, despite its holding to promote the State of Qatar and not only for the World Cup.
According to the newspaper, the view of some Qatari officials is that Beckham, by not speaking publicly and avoiding media questions, is exerting his influence in ways that were sometimes counterproductive despite his attendance at a number of tournament matches.
The Qatari organizers felt that for all the millions of dollars he was earning, the attack on their country was getting worse.
To market itself to the world, Qatar has poured millions of dollars into celebrity deals, including deals with a contingent of former footballers who can speak credibly to fans using a common language.
In the middle of the week, plans were made for Beckham and several other former stars to appear at the fan zone near the Doha Corniche to meet fans.
Beckham’s team accepted his request but set two conditions: his presence not be announced in advance, and media reporters not alerted.
According to the New York Times, the event is useless after the fan area in Al Bidda Park was very deserted at the time of the event.
The event was canceled even though Beckham and the others were already behind the scenes preparing for the appearance, according to several people familiar with the plans.
Beckham signed with Qatar nearly two years ago in a deal that exceeded $150 million so that he would be an ambassador to the World Cup, according to the New York Times, which said that Beckham did not talk about the reason for his approval of the Qatari offer or answer questions about the many disputes that arose over hosting the country. Gulf of the most watched sporting event in the world.
Qatar has come under attack for its human rights record, its laws criminalizing homosexuality, and its treatment of migrant workers from some of the poorest parts of the world who were recruited to build the World Cup. But it seems that Beckham was protected from the dangers of asking embarrassing questions.
Months before the World Cup, tournament officials thought it would be a good idea to promote the work of a Qatari artist who designed the official posters for the tournament at an event at the Design Museum in London.
Instead, Qatari officials were frustrated when the positive response came with a caveat: Beckham was happy to attend, but there should not be any media present.
Later, Beckham’s reluctance to speak publicly outside of places he could carefully control so his team could agree on what would happen, attracted attention.
On the other hand, a representative of Beckham issued a statement, Friday, to the “New York Times”, denying this.
“David (Beckham) has participated in a number of World Cups and other major international tournaments as a player and ambassador and has always believed that sport has the potential to be a force for good in the world,” the statement read.
“We understand that there are different and robust views on engagement in the Middle East, but we find it positive that discussion on key issues has been catalysed directly by the first World Cup to be held in the region,” the statement continued.
He added, “We hope that these talks will lead to greater understanding and empathy towards all people and that progress will be achieved.”
One of Beckham’s former Manchester United teammates, Gary Neville, was traveling to Qatar to make a World Cup documentary for British television months before the tournament, a film that would touch on issues such as Qatar’s human rights record.
As part of his visit to Qatar, Neville arranged to interview Beckham separately on his show ‘The Overlap’.
The organizers believed that this opportunity provided the best platform for Beckham to discuss controversial issues and criticisms of Doha, but Beckham and his team rejected the idea, and when the interview was broadcast, Beckham’s unwillingness to talk about Qatar was noted again.