A comedian vowed to shred £10,000 – about $11,805 U.S. dollars – if David Beckham didn’t end his relationship with Qatar before the World Cup. Joe Lycett said he was doing the stunt because of the country’s anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. Beckham didn’t respond and Lycett streamed himself dropping the money into a shredder – only it wasn’t real.
In a video posted on social media Nov. 13, Lycett praised Beckham for being a “gay icon.” Beckham isn’t gay, but Lycett said he has been an advocate, even posing for LGBTQ magazine Attitude.
“But now, it’s 2022 and you signed a reported £10 million with Qatar to be an ambassador during the FIFA World Cup,” Lycett said. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, the host country of this year’s World Cup. Ahead of the games, advocacy group Human Rights Watch accused the country of arbitrarily arresting and abusing LGBTQ people.
Lycett said if Beckham ended his relationship with Qatar he would donate £10,000 of his own money to charities that support the LGBTQ community. If Beckham did not respond, Lycett promised to shred the money.
By Sunday, when the World Cup began, and Beckham had not responded to Lycett. Beckham, who played for several soccer teams throughout his career, including Manchester United, Real Madrid and the LA Galaxy, appeared to have attended the opening ceremony, per his Instagram story.
That day, Lycett shared a video on social media of himself chucking stacks of bills into a large shredder.
But on Monday, he revealed in a new video that he hadn’t quite told the truth. He didn’t shred £10,000 – it was fake.
In fact, he said he donated the money before he even tweeted the first video about Beckham. “I never expected to hear from you, it was an empty threat, designed to get people talking,” Lycett said in the video message directed at Beckham. “In many ways it was like your deal with Qatar, David. Totally bulls*** from the start.”
Lycett then shredded the cover of Attitude magazine that Beckham modeled for in 2002, saying Attitude gave him permission to shred it.
Human Rights Watch said last month that it had documented six cases of “severe and repeated” beatings and five cases of sexual harassment in police custody in Qatar between 2019 and 2022. CBS News has not independently verified these accounts.
People in the country have been arrested by security forces based on their gender expression, and their phones were unlawfully searched, according to the organization. The group also said detained transgender women were mandated to attend conversion therapy sessions as a condition of their release.
A Qatari official disputed the accusations in a statement to CBS News.
In light of reports about Qatar’s human rights violations, some players planned to wear armbands that support the “One Love” campaign, which advocates for anti-discrimination. But ahead of the first game, captains from seven European nations said they would not wear them, because FIFA said they would get yellow cards, taking them off the field for a period of time.