James Carroll reports on whether the latest email scandal is going to hurt ‘Brand Beckham’?
Hackers believed to be using Russian servers, accessed millions of messages and documents from the PR firm Doyen Global – which looks after David Beckham’s publicity – and attempted to blackmail the celebrity for £1 million, The Daily Mirror reported.
Beckham’s business team refused to engage or cooperate with their request, and immediately notified the police earlier this year.
As a member of the famed Manchester United brand – the Class of 92, Beckham was blessed with one of the best right feet the game has ever seen. He is also known for his specialty in dead-balls, incredible stamina, and ever-changing hairstyles.
“If you told me as a young boy I would have played for and won trophies for my boyhood club – Man Utd, proudly captained my country, over 100 times, and lined up for some of the biggest clubs in the world, I would have told you it was a fantasy,” he has said.
However, a series of personal emails leaked by the website Football Leaks threatens to derail his gentlemanly image. These include:
“Katherine Jenkins OBE for what? Singing at the rugby and going to see the troops plus taking coke. F***ing joke.” This barb was in relation to Jenkin’s admission that she took class A drugs in the past.
Beckham then allegedly laid into the honours committee, who recommend recipients, raging: “They’re a bunch of c**** I expected nothing less.” While adding, “It’s a disgrace, to be honest and if I was American I would of got something like this 10 years ago.”
The apparent emails were allegedly written in 2013 due to his frustration at not receiving a knighthood.
The English tabloids ran with the story on Saturday but his advisors were quick to release a statement saying, “This story is based on outdated material taken out of context from hacked and doctored private emails from a third party server and gives a deliberately inaccurate picture.”
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Beckham missed out on a knighthood in 2013 because of an apparent ‘red flag’ from HM Revenue and Customs over his tax affairs.
Although there is no suggestion that he broke the law, the ‘red flag’ was enough to halt his nomination.
It is rumoured that he is particularly annoyed about the way the emails depict his work with the United Nations charity UNICEF.
One email suggests that he complained about being approached by their ambassador relations manager, Chloe Edwards about contributing money at one of the auctions.
“Chloe asked me outright which I was p***** off about. . . I don’t want to do it and won’t do it with my own money.”
However, UNICEF’s deputy executive director Justin Forsyth defended the footballers commitment to the charity.
For over 15 years David Beckham has been a dedicated and passionate @UNICEF ambassador, helping many thousands of children
— Justin Forsyth (@justinforsyth) February 4, 2017
Furthermore, a statement from UNICEF read:
“Before establishing the 7 Fund, David had supported UNICEF and a number of other charities over many years, including donating his entire earnings from PSG during his time playing there. David and UNICEF are rightly proud of what they have and will continue to achieve together and are happy to let the facts speak for themselves.”
Having landed their big scoop last week over the emails, the British tabloids went to town on Beckham. Even betting giant Paddy Power are humorously offering odds on which celebrity will receive a knighthood before him.
Piers Morgan also weighed in on the story over Twitter.
I think we can forget about 'Sir David Beckham' ever happening. pic.twitter.com/ykEhQLP0Iv
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 3, 2017
Will Beckham be the last celebrity to have their private emails or messages hacked? This is doubtful.
Last month, Italian authorities arrested two people for hacking into the emails of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
It remains to be seen whether the British authorities will bring charges against anyone for the hack on Beckham.
Publishing the emails raises an ethical issue, as they were his own private emails.
Is the public entitled to know that the honours committee were a “bunch of c****” according to Beckham in his private mail and be vilified for it?
Football Leaks is a website that reveals contract information and transfer fees about famous footballers. It has been described as the Wikileaks for football.
However, it can be argued that the Beckham brand will not be dented by the material exposed in the emails.
The hacking may cause more sympathy rather than outrage among the public because of their fear of having private emails hacked.
There is a reason why people have conversations in private, it is a strictly private matter or, they trust the person they are talking to.
Regardless of what's in them, is hacking someone's personal emails any different to hacking their phones? Just a thought.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 5, 2017
Back in 2004, it was alleged Beckham had an affair with his PA, Rebecca Loos, when he moved to Real Madrid.
Loos sold her story of the alleged affair to the News of the World. When the story was splashed all over the tabloids, it did little long-term damage to “Brand Beckham.”
If the Loos story did not hurt Beckham’s image, then people’s opinions of him are unlikely to change because of a few throwaway comments in his inbox.