David Beckham signs on to be the face of Qatar, where being gay is punishable by death

LGBTQ ally David Beckham has reportedly inked a £10 million ($18 million U.S.) deal to be the media-friendly face of the vehemently homophobic Gulf state of Qatar and, understandably, a lot of people aren’t too happy about it.

The former England football captain, who once said he was “very honored” to be considered a “gay icon”, has been hired to help try and put a positive spin on Qatar’s terrible reputation towards LGBTQ people ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

In Qatar, same-sex marriage isn’t recognized and homosexuality is illegal and punishable by imprisonment, flogging, or even death. Sexual activity outside of marriage is punishable by seven years in jail. Cross-dressing or any speech considered offensive (including speaking in support of LGBTQ rights) is also against the law.

The Daily Mail reports:

Talks between Beckham’s advisers and the Qatari committee in charge of World Cup preparations have been ongoing for more than a year. After discussing options, including the sponsorship of his US soccer team Inter Miami, they are believed to have settled on a personal deal with the star. One Qatari source said: “This is a deal that is supposed to be top secret. It is being kept quiet until there is an opportunity to land it without David’s PR being affected too much. Well, that’s the hope anyway. Qatar are very much in his hands. There are concerns about his reputation but there is enough money on the table for the optics not to matter so much.”

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, responded to the reports by saying Beckham must be prepared to “speak out” about human rights abuses in the country.

“More needs to be done for this World Cup to leave a positive legacy and transform the human rights situation in Qatar, but the clock is ticking,” Allen said.

Beckham, who is worth an estimated £360 million ($500 million U.S.), declined to comment on the matter.

Graham Gremore is the Features Editor and a Staff Writer at Queerty. Follow him on Twitter @grahamgremore.