Manchester United legend David Beckham defends £150m ambassadorial role amid criticism of Qatar World Cup

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Manchester United legend David Beckham defends £150m ambassadorial role amid criticism of Qatar World Cup

‘Progress, inclusivity and tolerance’ – those are the values that David Beckham believes the Qatar World Cup would be a platform for as the opening ceremony fast approaches.

However, the former England and Manchester United midfielder has come under increasing criticism for his role in both the bid and the promotion of the Qatar World Cup. Beckham signed a 10-year-deal with the country worth £150m and was most recently seen in his official capacity speaking at a youth festival in Qatar; ‘today is your day to dream’ he told the crowd.

Human rights and LGBT issues however have been at the forefront of the conversation surrounding the tournament and it is likely that they will continue as the competition progresses. But Beckham has both defended his role and Qatar.

Beckham said: “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. The pitch would be a platform for progress.”

He continued: “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.”

Di Cunningham, co-founder of the Three Lions Pride group, has been heavily critical of Beckham, and believes he should no longer be considered an ally of LGBT rights because of his paid ambassador role.

But Beckham insisted that the country and its ambassadors were changing lives for the better: “Every one of the great players I was lucky enough to play with started exactly the same way. In a back garden, park, or a street outside their home with just a ball and an imagination that they dared to let run wild.

“Almost two decades ago, a small group of football lovers from Qatar had an equally fantastic dream: that they could bring the greatest football show on earth to their home country and to the Middle East for the very first time. And now we are here.

“Because when dreams are harnessed and mixed with dedication and hard work, they are no longer dreams, they become reality. I want to say to all of you, ‘today is your day to dream’. Because there are no limits to what you and your teammates can achieve in our beautiful game.”

This is likely not the end of the debate surrounding Beckham and Qatar as the tournament kicks off on Sunday with Qatar vs Ecuador.

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