The World Cup is edging closer, that extravaganza of football which unites people and nations of all creeds and colours. 

Just remember to hold your nose to the stench emanating from stadiums built in near ‘slavery’ conditions and gleaming cities where human rights abuses unfold daily.

Gay fans have been assured by both host nation Qatar and organisers FIFA that they will be safe at this year’s competition. They will not face fines or up to three years in prison for simply walking the streets - or the death penalty if they are Muslim - as is the case for gay Qataris.

Now, as the big kick off approaches on November 20, some ambassadors are finding that there may be a hidden cost for backing this tournament. 

So who is signed up to promote this year’s World Cup?

Mainly former footballers with Xavi, Ronald de Boer, Cafu, Tim Cahill and Samuel Eto'o on board. So too is Khalid Salman, an ex-Qatari internationalist, but he is not as polished as the others and last week labelled homesexuality ‘damage in the mind’. Joining this illustrious group, for a princely fee of £10million, is David Beckham.

What’s Golden Balls doing?

Riding speedboats and planes, showing the glitz and glamour of Qatar and touting the competition’s eco-credentials. That’s already landed him in bother as he claimed Qatar 2022 was carbon neutral. One leading climate professor labelled this ‘misleading and incredibly dangerous.’ Beckham’s £10m deal has also brought the star into conflict with one of his fanbases.

How so?

The situation is best summed up by comedian, Joe Lycett, who sent a message to the man he regards as a ‘gay icon’: “It’s 2022 and you have signed a £10million deal with Qatar to be their ambassador during the FIFA World Cup. Qatar… voted one of the worst places in the world to be gay, homosexuality is illegal, punishable by imprisonment and, if you are Muslim, possibly even death.” If Beckham quits the role Joe will donate £10k to charity. If he stays, Joe will burn the money during the opening ceremony.

Come on, who wouldn’t take £10m for a few weeks’ work?

Eric Cantona. Beckham’s old team-mate cited the deaths of workers employed to build the stadia and says he will not watch it. Nor will Dua Lipa, who spoke out when she was linked with performing: “I look forward to visiting Qatar when it has fulfilled all the human rights pledges it made when it won the right to host the World Cup.”

Surely this will all die down when the football kicks off?

That’s clearly what Beckham and the rest are hoping for. Just don’t expect to see him reappearing on the front cover of Attitude anytime soon.