Comedian Joe Lycett has began a 24 hour countdown before he shreds £10,000 unless David Beckham pulls out of his role as a Qatar ambassador.
Lycett issued the ultimatum to Beckham after reports he signed a £10m deal with the FIFA World Cup hosts, despite a catalogue of human rights controversies associated with the tournament.
In Qatar, where the contest is set for kick-off this weekend homosexuality is illegal with anyone found guilty of same-sex sexual activity being punished with up to seven years in prison.
The comic unveiled his plans to shred £10k of his own money – along with Beckham’s “status as gay icon” – if the former England player failed to end his sponsorship deal before the tournament began.
Lycett, from Birmingham, said the money would be donated to LGBTQ+ charities if he pulled out.
In a video message directed at Beckham, Lycett commended the footballer for always talking about “the power of football as a force for good” but said Qatar is “one of the worst places in the world to be gay”.
Lycett told the footballer: “If you end your relationship with Qatar I will donate ten grand of my own money (that’s a grand for every million you’re reportedly getting) 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 and stream it right here.
“Not just the money, but also your status as gay icon will be shredded.
“Also you’ll be forcing me to commit what might be a crime. Although even then, I reckon I’ll get off more lightly than I would if I got caught whacking off a lad in Doha.”
Beckham is yet to publicly acknowledge or respond to the ultimatum, prompting Lycett to begin counting down the hours until the deadline.
On Saturday the comedian tweeted a photograph of what appears to be a stack of cash with the caption “24 hours to go…” and #benderslikeBeckham.
This follows a tweet on Friday of an image of a large woodchipper with the caption “48 hours to go”.
There has been a mixed response from fans of the comedian, who has appeared on a host of comedy shows over the years including Live At The Apollo, Taskmaster, 8 Out of 10 Cats and also fronts Channel 4’s consumer rights show, Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back.
Many took to social media to urge the star to donate the money to a food bank rather than shredding it at a time when the cost of living is soaring.
One Twitter user wrote: “Just a thought @joelycett but shredding it does nobody any good. Maybe giving it to a queer charity or a food bank would be more useful.”
Another tweeted: “Joe, are you really going to do this? I totally respect and agree why, but £10,000?
“It may be small change to Becks and the Qatar moguls, but a lot of people are living on fresh air at the minute.”
Beckham and Lycett’s representatives have been contacted for comment.