Football

England’s LGBTQ+ fan group criticizes David Beckham for his role in the World Cup | david beckham

The England team’s largest LGBTQ+ supporter group has suggested that David Beckham should no longer be seen as a big ally or placed on a pedestal after becoming a paid ambassador for the Qatar World Cup.

Di Cunningham, co-founder of the Three Lions Pride group, said she was disappointed by Beckham’s decision to accept a deal, reportedly worth 150 million pounds, given that Qatari law criminalizes same-sex relationships.

Cunningham was one of those who traveled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup and said he found most of the people “very, very welcoming” on his visit. However, she said that Three Lions Pride would not go to Qatar because “there were no signs, as there were in Russia, of any desire to relax or review the toxic environment that exists for LGBTQ+ and other minority groups.”

Speaking at a Sport & Rights Alliance press conference on Wednesday, Cunningham also praised players who had spoken out for LGBT+ rights in Qatar, before focusing on Beckham, the former England captain.

“One of the difficulties is that people take the money to promote Qatar and the World Cup,” he said. “I am very disappointed that we, the LGBTQ+ football family, have put David Beckham on a pedestal, as a great ally.

“And then it turns out that he’s charging a lot of money to be an ambassador for this World Cup, and that’s incredibly disappointing. So I really hope the message has gotten out that people will be criticized for that.”

Meanwhile, Minky Worden of Human Rights Watch urged FIFA never again to go
to a country that does not respect basic human rights. “The athletes are effectively hostages,” she warned. “They are tied to the FIFA ship and they have to go wherever the World Cup or the Club World Cup goes. And I think for a lot of fans, athletes and others, the last decade has been a very bitter lesson.”

Worden also called for a human rights framework to be put in place for future bids before adding: “There can never again be a World Cup that fails to uphold basic human rights and put athletes whose job is their workplace in the envious position having to fear for their identity.

“Never again should we have a World Cup that does not respect basic human rights and does not have the expected guarantees and protections.”

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