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David Beckham docuseries director explains why he didn’t cover Qatar controversy

‘Beckham’ on Netflix explores the former midfielder’s rise to football stardom

Inga Parkel
Saturday 07 October 2023 12:02 BST
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David Beckham stars in Qatar promotional video amid backlash

The director of Beckham, Netflix’s new docuseries on football star David Beckham, has explained why he didn’t include the 2022 Qatar controversy.

Released on Wednesday (4 October), the four-part documentary, directed by Succession star Fisher Stevens, explores the former England midfielder’s rise to football stardom through interviews with him and his wife of 24 years, Victoria Beckham, and other famous faces.

The series covers much of the former England football captain’s legacy, including tougher topics like the infamous red card he received during the 1998 World Cup against Argentina, as well as his marriage difficulties with Victoria. However, the Netflix series left out his most recent controversy – his ambassadorship with Qatar.

Ahead of last year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Beckham, 48, faced heavy criticism after he reportedly accepted a £10m ambassadorship with the country where homosexuality is illegal. For many years prior, the football star had been viewed as a great ally of the LGBTQ+ community.

The move prompted comedian Joe Lycett to threaten to shred £10,000 of his own money if Beckham didn’t renounce the endorsement. Beckham, however, didn’t respond, and Lycett went on to donate the money to charity after initially faking its destruction.

In a new interview with The Independent, director Stevens revealed that he had spoken to Beckham about the subject on camera and tried to put it in the finished documentary before eventually opting against it.

“It just felt kind of dated,” he said. “Honestly, if I had another episode, we could have gotten into that. But it just didn’t feel as relevant. When you’re talking about a guy’s 48 years, that was [just] a moment.”

David Beckham (Netflix/Beckham)

A month after Lycett’s stunt, Beckham’s team finally responded in a statement, saying: “David has been involved in a number of World Cups and other major international tournaments both as a player and an ambassador and he’s always believed that sport has the power to be a force for good in the world.

“We understand that there are different and strongly held views about engagement in the Middle East but see it as positive that debate about the key issues has been stimulated directly by the first World Cup being held in the region,” it continued. “We hope that these conversations will lead to greater understanding and empathy towards all people and that progress will be achieved.”

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“It’s a complex thing,” Stevens added. “But that’s his life too, right? They talk s*** about him doing this and that and then they love him for doing [something else]. So who knows what’ll be the next thing?

“Maybe that’ll come out in the sequel. After all, this guy is only 48 years old. He’s still got a whole other one or two acts.”

In a four-star review of Beckham, The Independent’s Jessie Thompson found the documentary to be “a cosy but candid insight into an icon”.

Beckham is available to stream on Netflix.

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