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Beckham is warned Qatar deal will ‘hurt his brand’


Brand warning: David Beckham

Brand warning: David Beckham

Brand warning: David Beckham

David Beckham has been warned that his lucrative role with Qatar will tarnish his status as one of the most marketable athletes in history.

The former England captain had already defended himself from criticism by human rights groups over his World Cup ambassadorial role, which is said to be worth £15 million (€17.8m) a year.

His deal with Qatar comes after a year in which “David Beckham Ventures Limited”, the brand management firm owned with his wife, fell £3.5m to £11.3m in 2019. A further decline in profits had appeared likely due to Covid-19.

“From Beckham’s perspective, I would be very surprised if he would have leapt at the opportunity to act as Qatar’s ambassador were it not for the outrageous sum that is being offered to him,” Marcel Knobil, founder of Superbrands and the Brand Council consultancy, said.

“As good as this is for Qatar, it’s equally as bad for Beckham, who is a magnificent figure to use to try to eclipse the negative perceptions that the country has earned.”

Beckham was part of the consortium that finalised a buy-out at Inter Miami this summer.

However, Conrad Wiacek, head of sport analysis at analytics firm GlobalData, warned ‘Brand Beckham’ is potentially “under threat” as a result of his association with a Middle East nation criticised by LGBT+ and workers’ rights groups.

“While it can be argued that Beckham’s involvement will shed light on some of the perceived injustices, brands may look to distance themselves from any hint of controversy,” Wiacek said.

Sources close to the former player – who has been a Unicef goodwill ambassador since 2005 – insisted he was working with the nation because he believes in the “power of football to inspire positive change”.

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