Thursday, December 22, 2022
The World Cup of Contracts: Bend Contractual Obligations Like Beckham?
Last week, Tariq Panja spilled the tea in The New York Times about David Beckham's contract to promote Qatar in connection with the World Cup and his utter failure to do so in any way that would have the sort of impact for which Qatar shelled out (perhaps?) $150 million. That said, he didn't exactly breach either. He kinda ChatGPT'd it.
Some people think you ought to actually enthuse to the media about Qatar when you enter into a contract to promote Qatar. Others think that you ought not to promote Qatar in connection with the World Cup if that might force you to opine about workers' rights or LGBTQ+ issues.
Or so I imagine ChatGPT would respond if I asked it about Beckham's contractual performance.
Mr. Beckham's strategy, according to the New York Times, is to show up for events when asked, on condition that his appearance not be announced in advance and the press not be notified. Mr. Beckham's bearded visage can be seen all around Qatar, on billboards and signs promoting Qatar and the World Cup, but the man himself is rarely seen and largely inaccessible. When pressed to speak about why he is endorsing Qatar or about his views on the various controversies that swirled around the World Cup and its 2022 host, Mr. Beckham issued press statements that sounded genuine, by which I mean that they genuinely sounded like they were generated by ChatGPT. Some samples:
David has been involved in a number of World Cups and other major international tournaments both as a player and an ambassador and he has always believed that sport has the power to be a force for good in the world.
We understand that there are different and strongly held views about engagement in the Middle East but see it as positive that debate about the key issues has been stimulated directly by the first World Cup being held in the region.
Other celebrity sponsors of the World Cup have apparently been irked by Mr. Beckham's special treatment. But some of them, unlike Mr. Beckham, have won the World Cup tournament, so there may be some consolation in that.