Man Utd hero Eric Cantona leaves Beckham in the cold over Qatar deal

Joe Lycett calls out David Beckham for 'blatant hypocrisy'

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David Beckham’s former Manchester United team-mate Eric Cantona has slated the England icon’s ambassador deal with Qatar, which saw the nation’s ex-captain criticised throughout the World Cup. Beckham agreed to a deal with the tournament’s host that saw him promote the country for a reported fee of £150m.

Beckham was criticised when the contract was brought to light amid Qatar’s criminalisation of same-sex relationships, human rights issues and treatment of migrant workers. Comedian Joe Lycett pulled a stunt that saw him shred £10,000 promised to LGBTQ+ charities if Beckham did not cancel the deal, the former Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain man failed to respond and Lycett shredded the money – which was later revealed to have been fake.

Cantona has been outspoken against Qatar hosting the World Cup and told Beckham that he “can’t see” a good reason why his former colleague would have promoted the country. “If he really believes he has to do that promotion for the right reasons — I don’t know what the right reasons are — that is OK. But if it is only for money, it’s completely different,” Cantona told The Times. “You have to ask him why he did it. Maybe he has a good argument, but I can’t see one.”

It is not the first time that Cantona has called out Beckham for the deal, as he questioned Beckham’s motives before the tournament. “I would not do it at all,” Cantona told The Athletic in September.

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“I do completely the opposite. In January 2022, I started to say that. Maybe I was the first one. But I am free to do it. And of course, an ex-player paid to do this kind of thing… It could be they don’t know what has happened there. Or, if they know it, I think they did wrong. I think they made a big mistake. A big, big mistake.”

Beckham released his only statement on the contract to Lycett’s Channel 4 show via a spokesman on December 15. “David has been involved in a number of World Cups and other major international tournaments both as a player and an ambassador and he’s always believed that sport has the power to be a force for good in the world,” the statement read.

“Football, the most popular sport globally, has a genuine ability to bring people together and make a real contribution to communities.

“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.

“We hope that these conversations will lead to greater understanding and empathy towards all people that progress will be achieved.”

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