The 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar. It will be the first World Cup held in an Arab nation.
Qatar is an extremely wealthy peninsula in the Middle East jutting out of Saudi Arabia into the Persian Gulf. Qatar is smaller than the state of Connecticut, but it happens to be sitting on the world's third-largest source of natural gas and one of the 15-largest sources of oil.
Thanks to these incredibly fortunate geographic circumstances, Qatar is the richest country in the world in terms of per-capita GDP. This is how their police drive Bugattis, Porsches and Lamborghinis (seriously, google it… though I think the vast majority of Qatari police cars are Suzukis and other more-normal SUVs).
This is how the Qatari royal family can afford to pay a $1 billion ransom when a couple dozen family members got kidnapped in Iraq while on a falconry excursion.
This is also how the teeny tiny country is able to pay David Beckham $200 million to become its tourism ambassador.
In a deal that was just revealed by The Daily Mail, David Beckham will reportedly earn around $20 million per year over the next 10 years to "act as an ambassador for the country and promote tourism and culture."
The deal has been described as being worth $20+ million per year, but also potentially as much as $277 million over the decade.
Unfortunately this has landed Beckham in a bit of hot water because Qatar is also fairly controversial.
According to Amnesty International:
"Qatar's human rights record is troubling – from the country's longstanding mistreatment of migrant workers, to its curbs on free speech and the criminalisation of same-sex relations… Qatar's mistreatment of migrant workers – the people whose hard work is making the World Cup possible – is especially disturbing."
The United States department of State has accused Qatar of engaging in forced labor, especially in the run up to the World Cup. A Guardian analysis alleged that as many as 6,500 migrant workers have died while working on projects related to the World Cup.
The Daily Mail claims that homosexuality in Qatar is punishable by three years in prison and men can be thrown in jail just for "appearing" gay.
It should be noted that neither Qatar nor Beckham have publicly confirmed the endorsement deal but the Daily Mail's sources claim it is official. Furthermore, private jet watchers have trailed Beckham's personal plane flying to and from the country on a number of recent occasions. While touring the country on one visit, he lavished praise on Qatar's hotels and stadiums.
Some critics are trying to understand how Beckham can square his endorsement of Qatar and his work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and staunch support of LGBTQ rights.
Beckham is certainly not the first celebrity to land in Qatari hot water. Back in 2017, Jennifer Lopez was shamed after she received a reported $3 million for appearing at an event in Qatar where she did a 20 minute Q&A on women's rights.
Rothna Begum, a senior women's rights researcher at campaign group Human Rights Watch, had this to say about Beckham's deal:
"Celebrities who are being paid to promote the Qatari state who consider themselves to be pro-women and pro-women's rights should be using the opportunity and access to those in positions of power to enquire about things that are happening."
On the other hand… it's $200 million… I don't care if you're already worth nearly a half-billion dollars (that's our current estimate for Mr. Mrs. Beckham), $20 million per year over 10 years to smile and wave in a few commercials… hard to resist!
Would you take Qatar's money?