Wary of human rights, World Cup sponsors walk away from Qatar

For others, however, the rich salaries on offer may be too great to turn down. Qatar have for years signed some of the biggest sponsorsh...


For others, however, the rich salaries on offer may be too great to turn down. Qatar have for years signed some of the biggest sponsorship deals in sport, and that has only intensified as the World Cup approaches. His biggest catch to date was David Beckham, the former England star who, like Lineker, was present in the room when Qatar were chosen as hosts for 2022.

Qatar’s multimillion-dollar deal with Beckham, now also a sports team owner and investor whose stardom transcends football, extends beyond the World Cup; it is, in many ways, a deal for the former England national team captain to endorse Qatar itself. This led some people close to Beckham to privately express doubts about the nature of the arrangement. “It’s an agreement to promote and support the nation and what it does,” a person with knowledge of the agreement said when describing it.

Beckham has not spoken publicly about what motivated him to sign with Qatar, where he has been a frequent visitor since agreeing a deal more than 18 months ago. His spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Beckham has so far avoided press scrutiny at events in Qatar, which included an event with Afghan refugees; a promotional event for Qatar Airways; and a panel appearance at the Doha Forum, a flashy event that brings together business and political elites. He was, however, curiously absent from the World Cup draw.

“There are so many risks involved with this,” said Tim Crow, former chief executive of Synergy, a company that has advised Olympic and World Cup sponsors. “I was a bit surprised that he decided to position himself with something that is so risky, especially for a guy who doesn’t need the money.”

Beckham’s relationship with Qatar may lead to questions for one of his other partners, sportswear maker Adidas. The company provided few details on how it would activate its relationship with Beckham for the Qatar World Cup, saying only that he “is a valued and long-standing member of the Adidas family and that our partnership will continue in as such”.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Wary of human rights, World Cup sponsors walk away from Qatar
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