British comedian Joe Lycett did not shred $11,000 over David Beckham's role as Qatar World Cup ambassador
By Zayn Nabbi, CNN
British comedian Joe Lycett did not shred £10,000 ($11,800) as he claimed to have done on Sunday when the World Cup kicked off, saying Monday the money had in fact been "donated to LGBTQ+ charities before I even pressed send on the initial tweet last week."
Lycett had called on English football icon David Beckham to step down from being an ambassador for Qatar during the World Cup due to the country's human rights record, particularly its stance on homosexuality, which is illegal in the Gulf state.
Lycett said he did not receive a response from Beckham, which led to him sharing a video of himself appearing to shred the money.
"I told you I was going to destroy £10,000 if you didn't end your relationship with Qatar before the first day of the World Cup, and then when you didn't end your relationship or even respond in any way, I streamed myself dropping 10k into a shredder, or did I?" Lycett said on social media.
"I haven't quite told you the whole truth -- because the truth is the money that went into the shredder was real, but the money that came out was fake. I would never destroy real money.
"I would never be so irresponsible. In fact, the 10 grand had already been donated to LGBTQ+ charities before I even pressed send on the initial tweet last week. I never expected to hear from you, it was an empty threat designed to get people talking."
CNN has reached out to Joe Lycett's representatives for details on which charities were donated to, but Stonewall has confirmed it was one of the charities to receive a donation from Lycett.
Lycett went on to shred Beckham's Attitude magazine cover from June 2002, which was the first time a Premier League footballer had appeared on the cover of Attitude.
"I asked Attitude if I could shred it, and they were more than happy to oblige," Lycett said.
Attitude, a leading British LGBTQ magazine, replied to Lycett on Twitter saying "the pleasure is all ours."
On November 13, Lycett, who describes himself as queer on his website, posted a video on Twitter, saying he would donate £10,000 to charities supporting "queer people in football" or put the money through the shredder, along with "Beckham's reputation as a gay icon," if the former England captain did not cut ties with Qatar within the week.
Homosexuality in Qatar is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison.
David Beckham's representatives did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.
Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy recently told CNN that the 2022 World Cup will "be an inclusive, safe tournament" and said "everyone is welcome, regardless of race, background, religion, gender, orientation or nationality."
Last week, world football governing body FIFA referred CNN to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy for all comment relating to Lycett's criticism of Beckham and Qatar.
A report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) published in October documented alleged cases of beatings and sexual harassment while in detention. According to victims interviewed by Human Rights Watch, security forces allegedly forced transgender women to attend conversion therapy sessions at a "behavioral healthcare" center sponsored by the government.
"Qatari authorities need to end impunity for violence against LGBT people. The world is watching," said Rasha Younes of Human Rights Watch.
A Qatari official told CNN that the HRW allegations "contain information that is categorically and unequivocally false."
In his social post on Monday, Lycett described the stunt as "an empty threat designed to get people talking."
"In many ways, it was like your deal with Qatar, David. Total bulls**t from the start," he added.
The World Cup got underway on Sunday, with host Qatar losing 2-0 to Ecuador.
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