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26th Sep 2022

Eric Cantona says David Beckham is making a ‘big mistake’ promoting Qatar World Cup

Callum Boyle

Eric Cantona

‘An ex-player paid to do this kind of thing…’

Eric Cantona has warned former teammate David Beckham that he is making a “big mistake” by taking on an ambassadorial role for the Qatar World Cup.

Beckham has come under fire in recent months for his role to paint Qatar in a positive light and has been accused of duplicity in the country’s sportswashing campaign.

Now Cantona – a former teammate of Beckham at Manchester United – is the latest to warn the football legend about his duties and has urged him to re-think about promoting Qatar.

Asked if he would take on a role similar to Beckham, he told The Athletic: “I would not do it at all. 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.”

The former England captain signed a deal worth £10m to become an ambassador for Qatar over the next decade in February and as a result, has become the face of the World Cup.

During an appearance on Gary Neville’s The Overlap, Beckham was heard singing the praises of the country, refusing to condemn them for their abhorrent human rights record.

“Speaking as a fan, I’ve been coming to Qatar now for a number of years. I’ve seen the hospitality, the warmth of the people,” he said.

“We talk about football being for everybody, we talk about the World Cup being for everybody and this is the first time the World Cup is being hosted in this region and that is an incredible moment.”

Human rights organisation, Amnesty International, criticised the programme after it had been aired. They said: “It’s a shame the film makes no mention at all of Qatar’s long history of labour abuses, its shocking criminalisation of homosexuality or in fact any other human rights issue.

“When David Beckham secured his lucrative deal to be an ambassador for football in Qatar, we said he ought to use his unique profile to keep the world’s focus on human rights issues surrounding the Qatar World Cup. This feels like a missed opportunity.”

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