Joe Lycett has put his money where his mouth is, shredding £10,000 of his own cash after David Beckham failed to end his controversial multi-million-pound World Cup promotion deal with Qatar.
Wearing a rainbow-coloured ruffled top, and noise cancelling headphones to protect his ears, Lycett tossed in the cash in two goes, with the resulting shreds spewing out of the end of the wood-chipper.
Remaining expressionless throughout, the 34-year-old star then curtseyed to the camera, and exited left.
Lycett had directed the message to Beckham personally and had said he would donate the money to LGBTQ+ charities if the sports star ended the sponsorship deal ahead of the tournament.
However, Beckham did not publicly acknowledge or respond to the ultimatum.
Lycett’s original video sharing his shredding plans showed him sat at a desk with wads of cash, praising Beckham as a gay icon, and joking that marrying a Spice Girl is “the gayest thing a human being can do”.
Going on to explain that Qatar has been “voted as one of the worst places in the world to be gay,” he then appealed to Beckham to rethink his deal with the Middle East country.
It has been reported that Beckham signed a multi-million-pound deal with the FIFA World Cup hosts, which Lycett said was worth £10m – but other reports have put as high as £150m.
Qatar has faced an onslaught of criticism since being chosen as the host nation, with the country’s poor human rights record and ban on same-sex relationships proving particularly problematic.
In Qatar, participating in same-sex, sexual activity can be punished with up to seven years in prison, or even the death penalty.
The safety of migrant workers and the logistics of holding a football tournament in desert heat has also attracted negative attention.
Three days before the shredding, Lycett shared a message he had sent to Bekham’s PR team asking: “Could you let me know if there’s any chance he might budge on his position, or am I to expect radio silence on this?”
Adding: “There’s still time for David and his team to do the right thing”. He also shared a picture of the £10k and the red woodchipper he would go on to use to shred it.
Lycett, set up a dedicated website to livestream the shredding, which took place in a dingy, brick-walled building at midday on Sunday, just before the World Cup opening ceremony.
There had been a mixed response to the comedian’s pledge to destroy the money, with some praising him for raising awareness of Qatar’s poor human rights record and criminalisation of LGBTQ+ people, while others urged him to donate the money to a food bank rather than shredding it at a time when the cost of living is soaring.
Comedian Harry Hill had commented on Lycett’s pledge on social media, wishing him luck and saying he would be “voting with my feet” and not watching any of the World Cup, or buying any of products endorsed by Beckham. For good measure, he added: “I will not be plucking my eyebrows”.
Beckham had recently impressed the public with his distinctly un-starry approach to viewing the Queen laying in state, queuing for 13 hours to pay his respects.
Sky News has contacted Beckham and Lycett’s representatives for comment.
The World Cup kicks of today, with the opening ceremony at 2.30pm UK time, and the first match at 4pm UK time, with Qatar playing Ecuador.