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David Beckham

Time to cut the cord with David Beckham

The Los Angeles Galaxy are among the worst run football clubs anywhere on the planet and among the worst run professional sports franchise in the United States. So it should come as no surprise to those of us that follow Major League Soccer that David Beckham’s arrival stateside has been fiasco. The Galaxy bought a player solely for marketing purposes and then tried to build a football club around a marketing tool and thus gutted the perfectly decent set up they previously had at the Home Depot Center. The generosity of the Galaxy management has allowed several other MLS teams to acquire quality footballers for a the equivalent in some cases of a 2 litre bottle of Coca Cola. This has made the 2007 Galaxy among the most uncompetitive squads in the 12 year history of MLS. At the very same time the little sister who pays rent to the Galaxy to share their stadium is currently sitting 27 points ahead of their landlords.

The treatment of David Beckham by the Galaxy has brought Major League Soccer as well as football in the United States in general into complete disrepute across the Atlantic. As Times columnist Martin Samuel noted last month, ” We did not expect his (Beckham’s) new employers to not have any respect for his health or general welfare.” This statement is very poignant. Beckham’s new club for better or for worse is being judged as an outfit set on exploiting the world’s most famous footballer for financial gain. Again whether this is true or not can be bitterly debated but what is true is that perception across the Atlantic where MLS needs to improve its reputation is that the team and league have taken a careless attitude towards protecting England’s precious commodity David Beckham. If MLS is perceived to have destroyed Beckham’s career through the football equivalent of medical malpractice (ie. putting a half fit player on a pitch on a steamy summer evening and forcing him to play 90 minutes) surely no more players of stature or for that matter those who care about their own bodies will gravitate to Major League Soccer from the British Isles. Perception is reality and judging by the British press, not only is MLS judged a substandard division when even compared to the lower rungs of the Football League in England, but now it is being judged by Samuel and others to have deliberately sabotaged a player’s well being for financial gain, thus reinforcing (again rightly or wrongly) the perception many Europeans have of American corporations and society to begin with. Now the fact that Real Madrid conducted much the same sort of charade with Beckham, exploiting him for marketing and public relations purposes seems to have been lost on many across the pond despite the very open criticism by none other than Galactico Roberto Carlos himself of Real’s handling of Beckham. After all Real Madrid is one of the most popular football clubs anywhere, and the LA Galaxy is well, the worst team in a bad league played over the summer months when Footballers of any stature are on holiday in the South of France. (again the perception of many in Europe)

If MLS wants to continue to be a player on the world market they must resolve this issue with a favorable conclusion for the player. Beckham has repeatedly stated that he wants the opportunity to play for England in Euro 2008. That opportunity no doubt will not be afforded to him if continues to appear in a suit on in the press box at the Home Depot Center laughing it up with his fellow Galaxy walking wounded while his adopted club gets shelled on the pitch. Beckham’s legendary professionalism and his international career will both go up in a blaze of fire if he persists in Los Angeles. Even though Beckham says the right things publicly, it is obvious the circus around his arrival, the poor state of his club and the overall quality of the league in general caught him completely by surprise. The Galaxy had six months between signing Beckham and his arrival to improve its club and to prepare a world class player for the challenge that awaited him in the states, but were too busy trying to schedule out of the way friendlies and sell more tickets in order to exploit Beckham’s arrival to the highest degree rather than working on the very things that could have made the long term marriage between the two parties successful over time.

Bad marriages should end before the bitterness that’s bound to set in overcomes any rational thought or behavior on either side. What is obvious whether you believe Major League Soccer is unfairly maligned in the British press (as I do) or feel MLS is no better than League Two or Serie C as many of our readers believe, the coexistence of both camps is impossible. For someone like David Beckham it is unfair for his career to be hijacked by the prejudices of some back home and the negligence his current club is showing in enhancing its on the field product so that Becks does not feel he needs to tackle an opponent on a bad ankle, simply because nobody else on his bottom of the league club gives a hoot. It is unfair to Beckham, unfair to England and unfair to his Galaxy teammates to keep this circus going. For Beckham, one last bite at the England apple will be the appropriate send off for his hard work and his great career. One more chance at glory, one more chance to make a long suffering nation scream with joy when Becks and his mates lifts the Euro 2008 trophy. Beckham will only get that opportunity if allowed to play for a Premier League club again this season.

This can only happen if the Galaxy transfer list Beckham and thank him publicly for the professionalism he has shown throughout this sorry ordeal and thank him for the spike in attendance and increased shirt sales he has brought across the nation. It is unquestionably football malpractice to hold someone on a club and knowingly hurt his career in the process. While Chelsea may be guilty of this with Michael Ballack, they are Chelsea and have a little more credibility built up through decades of footballing prowess than MLS or the Galaxy. Moreover, the Galaxy has problems of a great nature that cannot be fixed under the microscope the club currently finds itself under. For the sake of the club they should cut ties with Beckham and hope to get a decent return on their investment in the transfer market.

MLS has a clear blueprint for the future which need not involve Beckham or any other highly priced European player. Despite the skepticism of the Euro press towards all things football on American soil, MLS has done a nice job in the last year of seperating itself from leagues that are rated similarly by objective football analysts. The signing of Australian A-League MVP Fred (who I must point out has had far from the impact on MLS than he did on the A-League), Cuahatomec Blanco the reigning Mexican League MVP and perhaps the nation’s most popular player over the past decade and Guille Baros Schelotto the most accomplished footballer from a silverware standpoint in the history of Argentina’s domestic league signal the intent of MLS to play a major role in buying the best talent Latin America has to offer. As Paul Gardner often states in Soccer America (and I am paraphrasing here) “US Soccer must turn its eyes south instead of across the Atlantic to truly capture the hearts and minds of fans across the nation.” Young starlets such a Richardino and Juan Toja who have represented their nations in the U-20 World Cup also have gravitated to MLS this year giving the league an easy retort to those who call it a retirement home for washed up and overpaid footballers.

Major League Soccer made an audacious attempt to try and win casual sports fans in the US who all too often have been prejudiced against the beautiful game by soccer hating (and often baiting) sports editors and writers. The long ball attempt failed miserably to bring MLS into the American sporting mainstream and has damaged the league’s credibility in the international football arena. But such a long ball need not have been thrown when the league’s quality of play and other interna
tional signings have proven to any objective observer that the league is on solid footing and here to stay.

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  1. Anonymous

    September 30, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    i just dont’ really like alexi lalas and how he put together this team, pathetic. a team with the best keeper, best player, not to mentino one of the better players in the world now (despite him being hurt) and plus a solid defender in xavier, adn they are well below .500…..tho they’ve turned things around a bit, it looks like they still are gonna finish short of the playoffs

  2. Anonymous

    September 20, 2007 at 7:33 am

    The MLS is a complete joke. Even if the level of play is acceptable the way the league constantly moves around players, authorizes “trades”, allocates foreign signings and allows owners to manage multiple teams makes the league a complete sham in every which way. The officiating is also the poorest around and that saying a lot from an EPL fan like myself who will admit the PL though the games are entertaining is a fundamentally flawed football league because the standard of officiating is much lower than in France, Holland, Germany etc.

  3. Anonymous

    September 19, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    What will ESPN do if MLS does cut the cord with Becks as you suggest? Drop MLS entirely?

  4. City Lou

    September 19, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    I use the term face of US Soccer in most sarcastic way possible, by the way.

  5. City Lou

    September 19, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    The issue is whether or not LA would be willing to part with Donovan. If they want to keep the face of US Soccer they must acquire another DP for which they have no assets to deal other than Beckham or dump Becks.

  6. Anonymous

    September 19, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    Screw the pretty english lad. Let him sink!


    September 19, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Beckham has been a waste. All the publicity hasn’t helped the Galaxy and the other player on the squad. He should be sold at value and then the Galaxy will be free.

  8. Sams Army

    September 19, 2007 at 8:49 am

    Role Reversal, DC United fan. I say even with a healthy Beckham no way do we compete for the title. We’ve dealt too many key parts to other teams in the recent past to be truly competitive.

  9. DC United Fan

    September 18, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    If Becks were healthy LA would make the playoffs and compete for MLS Cup with D.C.

  10. tyduffy

    September 18, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    I think there are too many financial factors for that to ever happen.

    It has been somewhat of a fiasco so far, but, when he could play, there was a genuine amount of excitement and buzz. I understand your point about the British press, but they would find something to criticize about MLS no matter what happened.

    They would take a far bigger hit in the American press if they got rid of Beckham. I think there is still a chance of success if he stays, but if he leaves its going to be an even bigger PR hit, and one that they may never recover from.

  11. Josiah of Footy Fame

    September 18, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    A well thought out and reasoned article. Beckham should got back to where he belongs, since Blanco among others have come here and embraced our league and our style of play.

  12. Eplnfl

    September 18, 2007 at 9:36 pm


    An excellent piece of writing. Top notch stuff. A joy to read.

    As I have stated many times, my opinion of the MLS has greatly increased as the season has gone on. Blanco filled the house for the Fire last week in bad weather. A true sign of the leagues progress.

    The Beckham experience has so far been a bad one for both sides. However, I do not view the marriage as on the rocks and unable to be saved.

    Beckham is certain to have a hand in the new LA team for the 2008 season. I will wager a bit that he will want a big name European manager brought in next year.

    I think the Posh effect is overlooked. The Beckhams selected LA as much as LA brought in Beckham. The Galaxy provide David with something to do close to home while Posh jump starts her act in Hollywood. We should not forget that David already has a movie role signed up.

    It’s way too early to say the Beckham`experience has been a negative one. Beckham the beta edition needs a service pack. Bbeckham 2.0 is eagerly awaited.

  13. Anonymous

    September 18, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    I disagree. This is a well written and informative article and appreciate your point of view but Beckham hasn’t had the opportunity to play to any degree in the MLS. It’s not his fault and it’s not the fault of the L.A. Galaxy. I do agree that L.A. put their eggs in one basket and it’s turned somewhat nightmarish because Beckham hasn’t had the opportunity to make any impact as a player due to his injuries. However, a bit more patience is in order. I think that L.A. will have the chance to build a winning team for next season.

  14. Anonymous

    September 18, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    Great points. Send the whiny, jet set Brit back home and let’s build MLS with guys who actually know how to make a tackle in the run of play!

  15. Anonymous

    September 18, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    If you look beneath your bitter American hack sarcasm and there’s a good point. Why are the Galaxy, an allegedly professional football team, playing an obviously injured player? Again and again? His welfare and his health are of no concern to the exploitive American bosses who known nothing of true football and continue to destroy the one good player you have in your stinking domestic league.

  16. Anonymous

    September 18, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Screw Beckham and the the last place Galaxy. Let’s talk about the MLS teams with actually some quality.

  17. Tar Heel Blue

    September 18, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    Screw the English press. Why do we need to adjust our leagues rules, the players we buy, the fields we play on and the terminology we use to fit their very skewed view of the game. The rest of Europe and Latin America have learned to just ignore the constant ignorant comments they make about the continent and other leagues. We should do the same.

  18. Anonymous

    September 18, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    I agree with everything you said but realize that selling Beckham back to the Premier League will do nothing to help MLS and will continue what is essentially an isolation of the English towards other stripes or flavors of football. Beckham has to prove for his own good that he hack it here in 25 degree heat centigrade and traveling great distances. Otherwise Beckham himself has failed and will proved a fraud.

  19. Oscar M.

    September 18, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    MLS is not the first team to “exploit” Beckham for financial gain, nor to be competitive on the field. There’s no reason he should have played the full 90 for England, either. Ddin’t Real pump him with pain killers for their league finale too? Smacks a bit of hypocrisy to me.

  20. Soccer Guru

    September 18, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Well said. I totally agree. the league’s continued insistence on wasting money on guys like Beckham and Denilson who don’t integrate with their teams in order to win acceptance on the broader sports scene in this nation is idiotic.

    As for the Brits and the Euro media who rate us so poorly, why do they keep coming after players in MLS if this is such a poor league?

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