“The main thing for me is to improve the soccer, to improve the standard, and to be part of history really, because I think soccer can be a lot bigger in the US.” These were the words of David Beckham when he signed for American club LA Galaxy in January 2007. His contract was worth a reported $50m a season.
Whatever Beckham does on and off the pitch is going to be followed with massive amounts of interest from football fans and probably the media worldwide. When it comes to football decisions, there has been many in his career that have come under the spotlight as much as his off-the-pitch excursions. However, in just over three years since his move from Real Madrid to America, surely he knows that his talent has been wasted? Beckham’s personality and his commitment to any cause, along with the bundles of passion he has, make it hard to really tear in to someone who, every time he speaks, sounds like he is making his debut.
After things had not gone so well, in other words ‘to improve the soccer’, he realised that the shine had come off and the marketing buzz of the transfer to LA Galaxy had pretty much calmed down. As well all know, Beckham is now in the hands of AC Milan and the circus has moved all the way from America to Italy. American sports fans, generally opinionated and vocal themselves will be seething with Beckham’s reluctance to commit to what he said. They will be thinking: where is your dedication to improving football, or soccer as it is called in the States, and being part of history?
In all honesty his stint in the US has been a disaster, except for the bank balance of course. There is nothing that would have stopped him signing a five-year contract worth the amount of money he was getting for each season. Ultimately he raised the profile of the MLS and got them creating headlines. What price do you put on that? Even though his comments about improving the state of football in America should be taken with a pinch of salt, the complications of the move to Milan is something he landed himself in.
In July 2007, when Beckham officially arrived as a Galaxy player, he said: “Ever since I signed for the Galaxy, people have questioned why I have come to America but every move I’ve made in my career has been about football for me.” Now any fan can utter whatever four-lettered word they want to in response to that comment, but if he was being genuine for even one second then he knows he is up against it when it comes to forcing his way in to Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad for South Africa 2010. All this because of the lure of dollars, wasting his talent and now appreciating the level of football he needed to be playing in the last three years for this problem not to have arisen.
America has Hollywood so therefore it could be that parts of the country and media are celebrity obsessed. As much as Beckham briefly raised the profile of football in the US, his pushy wife, Victoria, wanted to raise her profile because of the celebrity culture. Even though David Beckham is a model pro, he knows that he is way down the pecking order when it comes to choosing who England’s best player is. In order to protect ‘Brand Beckham’ he needs to hope Mr. Capello selects him in the World Cup squad so that he can prove, to himself if anything, that his talents are being wasted in the MLS where the level of competition is so far behind European football.
Even with Beckham’s millions, and the many more he earned in America, he knows that as a very proud Englishman lifting the World Cup is more richer than looking at Benjamin Franklin’s face on the hundred dollar note.