David Beckham Calls Qatar World Cup a 'Platform for Progress' amid Criticism Over His Involvement

David Beckham
David Beckham

Gotham/GC Images David Beckham

David Beckham is speaking out about his role as an ambassador in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, as the soccer star receives criticism over his involvement in the controversial tournament.

In his first public address about his ambassadorship since the criticism, Beckham, 47, appeared in a video shown to attendees at the Supreme Committee's Generation Amazing youth festival in Doha, Qatar.

The athlete spoke directly to viewers in a video, according to The Guardian, stating that Qatar hosting the tournament will be "a platform for progress," amid backlash around the country's systemic discrimination against women and the LGBTQ+ community, as well as the reported deaths of 37 migrant workers who were helping to construct the stadiums where the World Cup will be held.

Beckham will be paid a reported £150 million, around $178 million, for his work as an ambassador, according to the outlet.

"Dreams can come true," he said. "That is why you are here. You share Generation Amazing's twin passions for the game of football and for making the world a more tolerant and inclusive place."

RELATED: Everything to Know About the 2022 World Cup and the Controversy Over Host Country Qatar

"Every great sporting moment begins the same way, as a dream," Beckham said before sharing that his own dream as a child was to "put on the shirt with three lions on the chest" and "play for my country."

The athlete also said that "every one of the great players" he played with in the tournament "started exactly the same way" with "an imagination they dared to let run wild."

David Beckham of Real Madrid celebrates with his children Brooklyn, Cruz and Romeo after Real won the Primera Liga title after the match between Real Madrid and Mallorca at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium on June 17, 2007 in Madrid, Spain
David Beckham of Real Madrid celebrates with his children Brooklyn, Cruz and Romeo after Real won the Primera Liga title after the match between Real Madrid and Mallorca at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium on June 17, 2007 in Madrid, Spain

Denis Doyle/Getty

Beckham applauded Qatar's historic role in the tournament's history, noting that the 2022 World Cup will be the first time the tournament takes place in the Middle East.

"Almost two decades ago a small group of football lovers from Qatar had an equally fantastic dream: that they could bring the greatest football show on earth to their home country and to the Middle East for the very first time."

RELATED: Rod Stewart Says He 'Turned Down' $1 Million to Perform in Qatar amid FIFA World Cup Criticism

"And now we are here," said Beckham. "Because when dreams are harnessed and mixed with dedication and hard work, they are no longer dreams. They become reality. I want to say to all of you, 'today is your day to dream'. Because there are no limits to what you and your teammates can achieve in our beautiful game."

The pre-recorded video message concluded with Beckham asking viewers to "please be inspired and pass it on" as the tournament kicks off on Sunday.

"Even before this festival kicks off, more than a million lives have been touched to create an inspirational global community of coaches, educators and new young leaders. It all began as a dream. That is now yours.

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Marking the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup competition, the soccer championship will bring together 32 teams from all over the world, including England, the 2018 winners France, USA, Spain and more.

Several influential voices have spoken up against the tournament's location, including Rod Stewart, who claimed he rejected an offer to perform.

"I was actually offered a lot of money, over $1 million, to play there 15 months ago," Stewart, 77, told The Sunday Times in a new interview. "I turned it down. It's not right to go. And the Iranians should be out too for supplying arms."