While lockdown was bad news for most businesses, there were some who thrived on the change in circumstances. 

In March 2021, video conferencing business Zoom announced that its revenues had increased by 326% year-on-year. 

While providing a less essential service, celebrity video platform Cameo also saw the benefit of people spending more time at home. For a set fee, you can send in a message and have it read by Jay from the Inbetweeners, Justin Hawkins from the Darkness or Matt Le Tissier from the gutter. 

While messages from any of those three will cost you £40, £78 or £33 respectively, the site risks being overshadowed by a high-end competitor called Qatar. With Qatar, you can pay a reported £12 million per year and a legendary footballer will say whatever you want him to.  

In other news, David Beckham has issued a statement regarding his ambassadorial role with World Cup host nation Qatar. 

The Herald: 'Beckham's statement contains zero empathy, zero understanding and zero accountability''Beckham's statement contains zero empathy, zero understanding and zero accountability' (Image: PA Images)

READ MORE: LadBaby Martin Lewis Band Aid cover is another cynical ego boost

Prior to the tournament beginning in November, comedian Joe Lycett posted a video on social media and the website benderslikebeckham.com, in which he criticised the former England captain for accepting a lucrative contract to promote the Qatar World Cup and challenged him to pull out of the deal. 

Referring to Qatar as “one of the worst places in the world to be gay and hailing Beckham as a “gay icon” thanks to his photoshoots with Attitude magazine and record of speaking openly about his gay fans,  he said: “If you end your relationship with Qatar I will donate 10 grand of my own money to charities that support queer people in football. 

“However, if you do not, I will throw the money into a shredder at midday next Sunday, just before the opening ceremony of the World Cup…Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon, will be shredded.”

Seven days later, with Beckham having failed to pull out of the deal, Lycett appeared to shred the money on a livestream. The following day, he revealed that the money which emerged from the shredder was fake, and he had in fact donated £10,000 to LGBTQ+ charities.

On Thursday night, Channel 4 aired ‘Joe Lycett v David Beckham: A Got Your Back Christmas Special’. It featured a statement issued by Beckham’s team, about which Lycett tweeted: “As far as we are aware this is the only statement he or his team have given to any outlet regarding his involvement in Qatar. I have been advised that legally I cannot give my opinion on it, so you’ll have to make up your own minds.”

In order to help us all make up our own minds, I’ve broken down Beckham’s statement line-by-line. 

READ MORE: RMT leader Mick Lynch maintains dignity during Richard Madeley rant

“David has been involved in a number of World Cups and other major international tournaments both as a player and and ambassador and he’s always believed that sport has the power to be a force for good in the world”

The number of tournaments Beckham has been involved in is irrelevant. He is currently shilling for a country in which the punishment for sodomy between men is imprisonment of between one and three years. 

“He’s always believed that sport has the power to be a force for good in the world”, meanwhile, is just meaningless, vague PR language. It includes no tangible promises or commitments that Beckham will ever have to actually fulfil. 

“Football, the most popular sport globally, has a genuine ability to bring people together and make a real contribution to communities”

By doing Qatar’s bidding, what contribution is Beckham making to the LGBTQ+ community? Cliff Joannou, editor of British gay magazine Attitude, said on Thursday: “David’s statement is insultingly benign, extremely tone deaf and beyond disappointing. 

“When a FIFA World Cup ambassador describes homosexuality as a ‘disease of the mind’, we are a long way off the from the unity that Beckham’s ill-informed spokesperson desires. 

“In their statement, they also highlight how football has a ‘genuine ability to bring people together and make a real contribution to communities’ - perhaps they could begin by donating Beckham’s alleged £150m deal to the oppressed communities they wish to help?

“This statement, from Beckham’s spokesperson and not attributed to the former England captain himself, fails to address a lived reality that is very different for millions of oppressed people.”

“We understand that there are different and strongly held views about engagement in the Middle East…”

Some people think that the Qatar World Cup is an outrageous, cynical act of sportswashing, and other people have been paid millions by Qatar to not say that…

“...but see it as a positive that debate about the key issues has been stimulated directly by the first World Cup being held in the region.”

Nick Leeson could argue that his work stimulated debate about key issues in the banking industry, but that doesn’t mean his work is viewed positively. 

The Herald: 'The statement includes no tangible promises or commitments that Beckham will ever have to actually fulfil''The statement includes no tangible promises or commitments that Beckham will ever have to actually fulfil' (Image: PA Images)

“We hope that these conversations will lead to greater understanding and empathy towards all people and that progress will be achieved”.

Again, vague generalisations that could mean everything and nothing at the same time. A Coldplay lyric in place of something meaningful. "Progress will be achieved?”. What kind of progress? Who would be responsible for this progress? Who would the progress benefit? When would this progress be achieved? 

What with this being the final line of the non-statement, you might think he would finally mention LGBTQ+ people. Given that they are people, I guess you could argue they’re covered in the “empathy towards all people” bit, but it’s hard to give the benefit of the doubt to someone who’s being paid millions to say nice things about a country where security official Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari said the rainbow flag would “insult the whole society”.

READ MORE: Qatar World Cup guide to football's festival for all heterosexual men

This statement says nothing, means nothing and is worth nothing, other than proving beyond doubt that David Beckham stands for nothing. 

It contains zero empathy, zero understanding and zero accountability, completely failing to address any of the issues raised by Lycett or any of the other LGBTQ+ people who once considered him an ally and now view that allyship as performative at best. Those LGBTQ+ fans have been sold out by a man with a reported net worth of £369 million.

Speaking on the Channel 4 documentary, Lycett said: “Beckham still hasn’t addressed the issues faced by LGBTQ people in Qatar. 

“People say to me ‘why does it matter so much to you?’, and the reason it matters is because if someone like me lived in Qatar, they wouldn’t be able to be someone like me.”