David Beckham, ambassador for Qatar – The Athletic

There were two iconic British sportsmen at last weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix.

Both were there as part of their professional obligations, using their respective platforms, performing their roles to perfection and doing everything their employers might have asked of them.

Lewis Hamilton was one of them. He won the race, dominating the rest of the field in his Mercedes, finishing more than 25 seconds ahead of his rival for the Formula One Championship, Max Verstappen. He did so while wearing a rainbow crash helmet in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, which was described as “an incredible act of allyship” by Richard Morris, co-founder of Racing Pride. Hamilton tweeted pictures of him wearing the helmet, along with the message, “We stand together.”

David Beckham was the other. He was immaculately turned out in a blazer and slacks, shaking hands and kissing cheeks, visiting and inspecting the Qatari government’s various charitable initiatives, providing handsome content and generally performing the role of David Beckham to perfection.

He was there as part of his new role as ambassador for Qatar, designed initially to promote and polish the image of the 2022 World Cup, but later to sell the idea of Qatar more generally. It’s quite a reverse from Beckham being at the forefront of England’s 2018 World Cup bid, a bid that was humiliated at the same time Qatar was awarded the 2022 tournament.

One view would be that this was two different men attempting to affect change in Qatar in their own way. One via overt advocacy and allyship, the other through the softly-softly harnessing of fame and influence.

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