David Beckham silent on Qatar controversy as he makes first appearance at World Cup

Watch ITV News reporter Chloe Keedy question David Beckham

David Beckham has met questions over his controversial 2022 FIFA World Cup ambassadorship with silence, when ITV News approached him as he made his first public appearance in Qatar.

The former star footballer did not respond or visibly react to the question— instead smiling as he made his way to an event in Doha on Saturday afternoon. Beckham has come under fire for accepting a reported multimillion-pound deal to promote Qatar's World Cup.

Qatar has faced international criticism over its migrant labour human rights record and hardline anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

ITV News' Chloe Keedy reports from Qatar

Beckham, 47, appeared in an official video clip to promote Qatar ahead of the World Cup, in which he lavished praise on the hosting country.

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

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

In the past, the prominent football star had publicly criticised the World Cup's governing body, FIFA, for awarding hosting rights to countries with questionable human rights records.

Back when he was a member of England's bid team, Beckham condemned 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."

Speaking on Thursday following weeks of controversy, Beckham said the Qatar World Cup will be a "platform for progress."

Victoria and David Beckham

In a pre-recorded video for the Supreme Committee’s “Generation Amazing” youth festival in Doha on Thursday, Beckham appeared to implicitly address widespread criticism.

In the clip, he adds: "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.

On Saturday, ITV News reporter Chloe Keedy asked Beckham if he would respond to the criticism over his relationship with Qatar, as he stepped out from a vehicle flanked by his crew, enroute to attend a British Embassy event on Doha's Corniche. 

She asked Beckham: "How is to be in Qatar? Do you regret this whole partnership now?

He ignored the question, smiling broadly as he greeted a waiting crowd before walking away.

FIFA has said LGBT+ football fans could show public displays of affection at its venues during the World Cup without fear of repercussion.

Last week, Gerdine Lindhout, head of fans’ experience at FIFA, told ITV News that supporters could express themselves without fear of consequences inside official venues and fan zones

It came after Qatar’s World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman told German broadcaster ZDF earlier this month that homosexuality is "haram" and a "damage in the mind". Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

England skipper Harry Kane is one of several captains who plan to participate in the ‘OneLove’ campaign during the tournament, in a public demonstration of opposition to discrimination.

Meanwhile, comedian Joe Lycett has threatened to shred £10,000 if Beckham remained an ambassador for Qatar's World Cup.

Lycett, 34, issued the ultimatum to the "gay icon," promising if he did exit the deal, he would donate £10,000 to charities supporting Queer people in football - pledging £1,000 for every £1 million Beckham is being paid.

However, if Beckham does not cut ties with Qatar, Lycett has vowed to shred the money on a livestream just before the World Cup's opening ceremony on Sunday night.

Beckham is yet to publicly acknowledge or respond to the ultimatum, prompting Lycett to begin counting down the hours until the deadline.On Saturday, the comedian tweeted a photograph of what appeared to be a stack of cash with the caption “24 hours to go…” and #benderslikeBeckham.

This followed a tweet on Friday of an image of a large woodchipper with the caption “48 hours to go”.

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