Human rights campaigners on Thursday slammed David Beckham for fronting a glossy publicity campaign praising World Cup host Qatar as “perfection”, despite concerns over its rights record.
The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and England football star has appeared in a series of videos posted on the Visit Qatar website where he samples local art and food and visits a desert camp, exclaiming: “This is perfection for me!”
The ads were “just the latest slick and positive video about Qatar that David Beckham has put his face to”, said Felix Jakens, head of priority campaigns with Amnesty International UK.
The London-based rights monitor upbraided Beckham for making “no mention of the country’s appalling human rights record”.
The video campaign has Beckham saying that the Arab state “really is an incredible place to spend a few days on a stopover”.
“I cannot wait to bring my children back,” he adds.
Beckham last year signed a deal reportedly worth £150 million to promote the gas-rich Gulf state, which will be hosting the World Cup in November. He was appointed a cultural ambassador.
Jakens urged Beckham to use his “unique profile” to highlight the “terrible abuses” that tens of thousands of migrant workers have faced while working on World Cup multi-billion dollar sites.
Amnesty earlier this year demanded that world football’s governing body Fifa set up a $440-million fund for “abused” workers in Qatar.
The Arab state has faced accusations of under-reporting deaths and injuries among workers as well as complaints of unpaid wages.
There are also questions over its respect for the rights of women and the LGBTQ community.
The tiny state with conservative Muslim leaders has been in the rights spotlight ever since it was awarded the World Cup in 2010.
Critics say Qatar’s progress over the last decade has been mixed and that more pressure must be applied on the country and Fifa before the first ball is kicked in the 32-nation tournament on Nov 20.
Qatar refutes the number of deaths of migrant workers reported by some international media and says it has introduced a series of reforms to its employment regulations since being selected to host the World Cup.