The director of the new Netflix docuseries about David Beckham’s life and career has explained why he didn’t include the controversy around his involvement in last year’s Qatar World Cup.
Beckham, which was released on Wednesday (October 4), was directed by Succession’s Fisher Stevens and charts the former England midfielder’s rise to fame through interviews with himself, his wife Victoria and other famous faces.
It doesn’t shy away from exploring some of the controversies Beckham has faced, including the infamous red card he received during the 1998 World Cup against Argentina, as well as his marriage difficulties with Victoria. However, it doesn’t touch on the criticism Beckham faced for reportedly accepting a £10million ambassadorship with Qatar amid controversy surrounding the country’s poor record on LGBTQ+ rights.
Homosexuality remains illegal in Qatar and many pointed out that Beckham’s decision was at odds with his status as a gay icon and an ally of the LGBTQ+ community. Joe Lycett was one particular critic of the ambassadorship and offered to donate £10,000 of his own money to queer charities if Beckham ended the sponsorship before the tournament started. If not, he threatened to shred it on the opening day of the tournament.
Beckham didn’t respond and Lycett donated the money anyway after initially faking its destruction.
Now, Stevens has told The Independent in a new interview that he intended on including the Qatar controversy in the documentary and had spoken to Beckham about it on camera, but decided it wouldn’t make the final cut.
“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.
“It’s a complex thing,” he continued. “But that’s his life too, right? They talk shit 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.”
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.”
Elsewhere, a viral clip from the documentary showed Beckham calling out Victoria for claiming she was “working class” despite her dad driving her to school in a Rolls-Royce in the ’80s.