A British comedian appeared to shred £10,000 ($11,000) in a video after failing to receive a response from David Beckham over his controversial role as a Qatar World Cup ambassador.
On Sunday, Joe Lycett began tweeting an hourly countdown until his UK midday deadline (7am ET). At 12 pm GMT, he posted a video of himself shredding the money on www.benderslikebeckham.com, a website Lycett had been tweeting links to.
He later posted it on his social media accounts with the caption “a platform for progress,” likely a reference to a statement made by the soccer star in a pre-recorded message at Qatar’s Supreme Committee’s Generation Amazing youth festival in Doha, where he used those words to describe this year’s World Cup.
On November 13, Lycett, who describes himself as queer on his website, posted a video on Twitter, saying he would donate £10,000 to charities supporting “queer people in football” or put the money through the shredder, along with “Beckham’s reputation as a gay icon,” if the former England captain did not cut ties with Qatar within the week. Homosexuality in Qatar is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison.
Beckham did not respond and, in the video posted on his Twitter feed on Sunday, Lycett appeared to put piles of money into an industrial shredder while wearing a rainbow-colored top.
He then curtsied for the camera and walked away. The comedian did not immediately respond to CNN when asked to confirm whether he had shredded real money.
Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy recently told CNN that the 2022 World Cup will “be an inclusive, safe tournament” and said “everyone is welcome, regardless of race, background, religion, gender, orientation or nationality.”
Earlier this week, world football governing body FIFA referred CNN to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy for all comment relating to Lycett’s criticism of Beckham and Qatar.
Beckham, contacted by CNN on November 14 through his representatives, declined to comment on the criticism around his ambassadorship. CNN reached out to his representatives after Lycett appeared to shred money, but did not receive a response at time of publication.
“Qatar dreamed of bringing the World Cup to a place that it had never been before, but that it wouldn’t be enough just to achieve things on the pitch,” Beckham said at the youth festival. “The pitch would be a platform for progress.
“Dreams can come true. That is why you are here. You share Generation Amazing’s twin passions for the game of football and for making the world a more tolerant and inclusive place.”
A report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) published in October documented alleged cases of beatings and sexual harassment while in detention. According to victims interviewed by Human Rights Watch, security forces allegedly forced transgender women to attend conversion therapy sessions at a “behavioral healthcare” center sponsored by the government.
“Qatari authorities need to end impunity for violence against LGBT people. The world is watching,” said Rasha Younes of Human Rights Watch.
A Qatari official told CNN that the HRW allegations “contain information that is categorically and unequivocally false.”
Lycett, however, took aim at Beckham.
“You’re the first Premiership footballer to do shoots with gay magazines like Attitude, to speak openly about your gay fans,” Lycett said in last week’s video message.
“Now, it’s 2022. And you signed a reported £10 million deal with Qatar to be their ambassador during the FIFA World Cup.”
“If you do not, by midday next Sunday, I will throw this money into a shredder just before the opening ceremony of the World Cup and stream it live on a website I’ve registered called benderslikebeckham.com.”
Lycett is not the first person or group to criticize Beckham for his ambassadorship.
Adelaide United player Josh Cavallo, who came out as gay last year, told CNN Sport he would like to see Beckham using his platform to support the LGBTQ community instead of promoting the Qatari government.
“If someone like David Beckham with his platform does get around us and becomes an ally that we are wanting him to be, it is really helpful.
“If he could take that next step and show what he means to the LGBTQ community, that would be fantastic.”
CNN’s Zayn Nabbi and Sammy Mngqosini contributed to this report.