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It’s (Not) Coming Home

by Phoenix Atkinson

The comedian Joe Lycett, known for his TV and stand-up work, recently shredded £10k to protest David Beckham’s connections to the 2022 Qatar World Cup. If you had read any newspaper in the week leading up to the World Cup, you would have heard about it. It was a genuinely shocking video to watch, and not just because of his outfit. The idea that somebody could shred £10k in pure cash in a cost-of-living crisis was appalling to many people, mainly to those who thought you should be able to do whatever you want with your money. 

Except he didn’t. 

Let’s get this clear. He later came out and explained that he wouldn’t be that irresponsible, and that he had planned it all from the very start. He had actually donated the £10k to LGBTQ charities before the video even came out. Lycett then shredded David Beckham’s Attitude magazine cover, with permission from the editor-in-chief.

For context, Beckham was the first ever Premier League footballer to be photographed for the front cover of a gay magazine. He was a notable gay icon. This was symbolic of the betrayal that many LGBTQ+ football fans felt about his deal. 

This World Cup is weird, to say the absolute least. Personally, I’m quite into football, I support Newcastle (3rd in Premier League, howay the lads and all that), but I can’t help feeling morally disturbed by the fact that people can’t even wear rainbow armbands.

Football has never really been a wholly accepting place for the LGBTQ community. Or anyone who wasn’t a cishet white guy. But this feels like a low. Not even Sepp Blatter, the man with a name now synonymous with the rampant corruption of FIFA, can defend the decision. 

Let’s go back to Joe Lycett’s ‘shredding’ of £10k. Lycett is a comedian known for strong political statements and is, by all accounts, the king of getting people talking. He’s obviously known for changing his name to Hugo Boss in a protest against the eponymous brand's string of lawsuits. In his explanation video, he says that “it was an empty threat to get people talking”. So, did it work?

Yes. Obviously. We’re talking about it. I’ll bet that it will be talked about for a long time. Keir Starmer mentioned the shredding in PMQ’s, it was front page news, it got people talking. And people should be talking.

So let’s keep talking about it. Let’s make sure people know what’s happening. Football has always been political, don’t break that because it’s uncomfortable to face up to. Maybe, in 2026, we can celebrate with a bit less nervousness. That is, if we still have a society in four years.

Oh, and Lycett, can I know where you got that outfit from? I need it.

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