Beckham faces backlash over video promoting Qatar amid questions over its human rights record

The football star is facing widespread criticism over what human rights advocates are calling his 'naive' participation in the tourism campaign, ITV News' Vincent McAviney reports

During the 30-minute clip for Visit Qatar - Beckham explores the sights and sounds of the country, where he is filmed on a sailing boat and visiting a spice market.

"Qatar really is an incredible place to spend a few days on a stopover," the former England football star says in the clip.

"This is perfection. I cannot wait to bring my children back here."

The former football star's appearance in the video has sparked criticism, as campaigners highlighted concerns over Qatar's human rights record - including laws prohibiting LBTQ+ relationships, and its treatment of women and migrant labourers.

Critics are accusing Beckham of a "naive" endorsement ahead of the state's controversial FIFA World Cup hosting duties.

Qatar has criminalised "sodomy" and same-sex sexual intercourse. People caught breaking its internationally criticised laws face maximum penalties of seven years’ imprisonment.

Authorities there have failed to offer assurances that LGBTQ+ fans and players will be safe at this year's World Cup, prompting some to boycott the tournament.

Women in Qatar are also required to have a male 'guardian's' permission in order to marry or study abroad on government scholarships.

The decision by FIFA to award Qatar host responsibilities for 2022's World Cup has led to criticism about the country's human rights record.

Critics have accused Qatar's government of conducting a 'sports-washing' PR campaign in the build-up to the tournament to detract focus away from non-football issues.

The term is used to describe a country taking advantage of a grand sport event to generate positive publicity and dilute the conversation on its human rights record.

More than 6,500 migrant workers have died in the country while building tournament infrastructure, according to an investigative report by The Guardian.

After the video was posted online, Beckham - who is an ambassador for UNICEF - faced widespread criticism on social media.

Some highlighted that back when he was a member of England's bid team, Beckham had spoken critically about Russia and Qatar's hosting bid wins - alleging in a 2011 interview that there must have been "corruption" at FIFA, which left him "feeling sick."

One user tweeted: "Vile campaign, David Beckham. Speak up for the LGBTQ+ community who are being washed out of existence, for the 6,500+ migrant workers who have died from the World Cup, for the women who live their lives in the shadow of men."

"Sports-washing is inherently wrong. Those who promote nations with horrific human rights records actively silence those who are discriminated against, harmed and killed, all for more money," another said.

Human rights advocates also questioned Beckham's decision to appear in the video.

Mustafa Qadri tells ITV News Beckham's participation in the tourism campaign is 'incredibly naive and blind'

Mustafa Qadri, the CEO of Equidem - a human rights and labour rights charity - told ITV News Beckham's participation in the tourism promotion was "incredibly naive and blind," especially given recent reports alleging migrant labour abuses.

He said: "We’ve known for at least the beginning of the year that David Beckham has reportedly been paid £150 million to promote Qatar, but frankly given all the news that’s coming out about the human rights situation in Qatar it really is quite galling."

Mr Qadri added that Beckham is missing an opportunity for his platform to be used to spread awareness about social issues in Qatar.

"Apart from the hypocrisy of it, which I think there is a lot of that, is really just a sadness," he said.

"What an opportunity is being lost on the part of someone like David Beckham, that clearly I can only imagine his values are consistent with his international human rights standards, but is clearly failing to do everything that he can to have that influence on the ground.

"Ultimately the message has to be to FIFA, the FA of England, to the football team, and to the countries (sending teams to the World Cup) that, 'look, the attention on your country is only going to grow. Don't be defensive about this - hit it front on'.

"There's a real issue there. People know about it - address it. The opportunity is here."

Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK's Head of Priority Campaigns, said: “This is just the latest slick and positive video about Qatar that David Beckham has put his face to, and yet again there's no mention of the county's appalling human rights record.

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“Beckham's global fame and status are PR gold for Qatar's image, but he should be using that same unique profile to call on FIFA and the Qatari authorities to properly remedy the terrible abuses that tens of thousands of migrant workers have faced in building the infrastructure to deliver the World Cup.

“Beckham has said he hoped football would prove a force for good in Qatar. At the moment it seems his involvement is good news for Qatar's tourist industry, not for human rights.”

ITV News has approached David Beckham's representatives for comment.