David Beckham has made his first public statement on his controversial multi-million-dollar ambassador’s role with World Cup hosts Qatar, telling the New York Times he believed “sport has the power to be a force for good in the world”.
In an article on Friday entitled “The World Cup’s Missing Mouthpiece”, the US newspaper alleged Qatar had been disappointed with its return on its investment because the former Manchester United and Real Madrid player had appeared very little in public during the World Cup.
The paper claimed Beckham had placed strict conditions on his appearances and that he appeared to be shielded from questions on issues such as Qatar’s laws on homosexuality.
In response to the article, his publicist issued a statement saying: “David has been involved in a number of World Cups and other major international tournaments both as a player and an ambassador and he has always believed that sport has the power to be a force for good in the world.
“We understand that there are different and strongly held views about engagement in the Middle East but see it as positive that debate about the key issues has been stimulated directly by the first World Cup being held in the region,” the statement continued.
“We hope that these conversations will lead to greater understanding and empathy toward all people and that progress will be achieved.”
Initial reports last year indicated that 47-year-old Beckham was being paid $180 million over 10 years to promote Qatar, but more recent reports indicate he will receive around $15 million a year for three years with an option to extend.
Beckham, who played in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cup finals for England, is one of the owners of Major League Soccer franchise Inter Miami.
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