David Beckham is under yet more pressure over his multi-million pound deal to promote the 2022 World Cup after homosexuality was described as being ‘against human nature’ on a Qatari TV channel run by a close friend.
Football pundit Mohamed Aboutrika, a former Egypt international, launched the offensive tirade on beIN Sports last week. He also criticised the Premier League’s Rainbow Laces campaign supporting the LGBTQ+ community, calling for Muslim players to boycott it.
Aboutrika said ‘such a phenomenon does not fit our faith and it does not fit our religion’, adding it is ‘not only against Islam’s nature, but it’s against human nature’.
David Beckham is bracing himself for a backlash when he promotes Qatar and next year’s World Cup at the Formula One Grand Prix in Doha tomorrow
The father-of-four has been criticised by human rights groups after signing the ambassador deal with the authoritarian state, which bans homosexuality and severely restricts women's rights (Pictured: Beckham at Doha Grand Prix on Sunday with (front left) Stefano Domenicali, CEO of Formula One Group, (left) FIFA president Gianni Infantino and (front right) Nasser Al-Khelaifi
He added: ‘They will tell you that homosexuality is human rights. No, it is not human rights – in fact it’s against humanity.’ He was not challenged on his views and will not be disciplined nor sacked.
His outburst comes amid growing international concern about Qatar’s record of persecuting gay people and denying certain basic rights to women.
While Premier League chiefs promptly issued a statement saying that they ‘wholeheartedly disagree with the pundit’s views’, Beckham – who is being paid more than £10 million by the Qatari government to act as an ambassador for the tournament – refused to comment.
Mohamed Aboutrika said ‘such a phenomenon does not fit our faith and it does not fit our religion’, adding it is ‘not only against Islam’s nature, but it’s against human nature’
He added: ‘They will tell you that homosexuality is human rights. No, it is not human rights – in fact it’s against humanity.’ He was not challenged on his views and will not be disciplined nor sacked
His close friend Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who brokered his deal with Qatar, is the chairman of beIN Sports. The channel, which is effectively run by the Qatari state, also has the exclusive rights to the World Cup next year.
Beckham, 46, appeared on beIN Sports in 2019 where he spoke of his fondness for the Gulf state, saying it has a ‘great culture’. He also remained silent when asked how his claims that Qatar has changed its ways stand up given Aboutrika’s unchallenged words.
BeIN has refused to criticise Aboutrika, but said: ‘As a global media group, we represent and support people, causes and interests of every background, language and cultural heritage.’
The Mail on Sunday revealed last February that Beckham had signed the controversial deal – and that his team were so concerned about a backlash that they initially tried to keep it secret.
But last week, nine months after our story, Beckham publicly acknowledged the deal by posting a video of himself promoting the World Cup on his Facebook page. The following day, he posted his support on Instagram for his friend Sir Elton John’s Aids Foundation, writing that the charity is ‘committed to ending discrimination’.
It is understood that England players are expected to decide whether to protest against Qatar’s human rights record during pivotal discussions early next year.
The talks are due to take place in March at St George’s Park in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, where the squad will be preparing for the finals. Gareth Southgate’s players will be briefed in detail by external speakers. Reports yesterday indicated that the Football Association has approached Amnesty International to address the players.
The charity previously condemned Beckham for signing his deal, saying: ‘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.’