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David Beckham urged to speak out on Qatar World Cup 2022

By BBC
World Cup Beckham has been pictured in Qatar recently and in 2019 attended the Club World Cup in the country when he sat alongside Paris St-Germain chief executive Nasser Al-Khelaifi
OCT 26, 2021 LISTEN
Beckham has been pictured in Qatar recently and in 2019 attended the Club World Cup in the country when he sat alongside Paris St-Germain chief executive Nasser Al-Khelaifi

Former England captain David Beckham has been urged to speak out about the "deeply concerning" human rights situation in Qatar by Amnesty International.

Beckham has signed a lucrative deal to be a 2022 Qatar World Cup ambassador.

Human rights issues in the host country have been under scrutiny since Qatar was awarded the tournament in 2010.

"Qatar's human rights record is troubling, from the country's longstanding mistreatment of migrant workers to its curbs on free speech and the criminalisation of same-sex relations," Amnesty's Sacha Deshmukh said.

"It's not surprising that David Beckham wants to be involved in such a major football event, but we would urge him to learn about the deeply concerning human rights situation in Qatar and be prepared to speak out about it," he added.

Qatar has brought in migrant workers to help build the infrastructure for the winter World Cup.

Amnesty claim "thousands" of migrant deaths have not been properly investigated.

A spokesperson for Beckham told BBC Sport: "David has been visiting Qatar regularly for over a decade and went on to play for [Qatar-owned] PSG - so he has seen the passion for football in the country and the long-term commitment that's been made to hosting the World Cup and delivering a lasting legacy for the region.

"He's always talked about the power of football as a force for good on many levels.

"As we reach the one year to go point he will join the wider football community that is coming together for the World Cup 2022 and he's looking forward to what he thinks will be a great tournament."

Earlier this year, both Norway and Germany players wore T-shirts to show support for Qatar migrant workers before World Cup qualifying matches.

According to a source close to the former Manchester United star, Beckham believes the first World Cup to be held in a predominantly Muslim country will be important to the region and will inspire positive change.

They added: "Of course David wanted to ensure that he was informed about the facts and any concerns that he might have for his gay friends, football supporters and fans.

"Some of the laws and beliefs in the region differ to his own but the Qataris have always said that everyone will be safe and welcome at the World Cup in 2022 and he believes that commitment is sincere and has seen evidence of proactive engagement with the international LBGTQ community by the World Cup organisers."

Uefa established a working group in May to work with Fifa on the issue.

Speaking in August, Uefa delegate Gijs de Jong said: "It is clear that Qatar has made significant positive progress with human rights legislation in the last three years. The challenge is the legislation is not yet universally adopted, and... there is a need for further work."

The Qatar government has previously said it "is committed to working closely with its international partners, including Amnesty International, to protect all workers and ensure the new laws are effectively implemented and enforced".

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