Beckham denies his charity work was self-serving

David Beckham was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2003, two steps below a knighthood.
David Beckham was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2003, two steps below a knighthood.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • David Beckham on Saturday blasted reports that he used the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) to boost his public image and chances of getting a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.

A spokesman for the football icon claimed "hacked and doctored" private e-mails had given a "deliberately inaccurate picture".

The former England captain, who retired in 2013, was the subject of a "Football Leaks" probe by the European Investigative Collaborations network, a consortium of 12 European media organisations, including France's Mediapart.

Citing e-mails between Beckham and his staff, the reports claimed he initially refused to put his own money into his humanitarian 7 Fund, tried to obtain reimbursement from Unicef for expenses met by his sponsors and was using his charity work as a springboard for greater brand exposure.

Beckham was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2003, two steps below a knighthood.

In one e-mail, he allegedly took umbrage at Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins getting the same OBE award in 2014, slamming the British honours committee.

He appeared to rail against not receiving a knighthood, saying: "If I was American, I would have got something like this 10 years ago."

The 41-year-old allegedly labelled the honours committee "unappreciative c***s", reported the Mirror.

Of Jenkins' award, he reportedly said: "Katherine Jenkins OBE for what? Singing at the rugby and going to see the troops plus taking coke. F***ing joke."

In another e-mail, he seemingly complained about being asked up front to match the highest bidders at a Unicef auction, saying: "I don't want to do it and won't do it with my own money."

Beckham's representative responded to the claims.

"This story is based on outdated material taken out of context from hacked and doctored private e-mails from a third-party server and gives a deliberately inaccurate picture," he said.

"David Beckham and Unicef have had a powerful partnership in support of children for over 15 years."

Unicef said it was "extremely proud" of its work with Beckham, saying he had generously given his "time, energy and support" and has "given significant funds personally".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2017, with the headline 'Beckham denies his charity work was self-serving'. Print Edition | Subscribe