Jeers and loathing in Los Angeles for Beckham

July 20, 2009

He was supposed to be the man who would take soccer in the United States to the next level yet David Beckham is in danger of becoming an embarrassing liability to the game in the country.

On a weekend when 65,000 people turned out for a friendly match in Seattle, 82,000 watched a Gold Cup game in Dallas and the U.S. national team continued their impressive form with another victory, the soccer news was all about Beckham being booed by his own fans.

The fans wrote their own headlines — “Go Home Fraud” read one bluntly worded banner draped over a section of the Galaxy stadium while another made the point in a more eloquent manner: “Hey Becks, here before you, here after you, here despite you”.

American soccer fans were not supposed to be following L.A Galaxy despite Beckham — the plan was they would fall in love with the team because of the celebrity midfielder.

A significant section of the L.A. fans have turned against Beckham for one simple reason — he turned his back on them.

Beckham’s decision to spend the Major League Soccer (MLS) off-season, from January to March, playing on loan for AC Milan in Italy, was grudgingly accepted at the time it was announced. When he decided to stay until the end of the Serie A season and so miss the first half of the MLS campaign it was a different matter.

Sports pundit Jay Mariotti, a regular on radio and television sports talk shows, wrote on Monday: “Beckham came here two years ago intending to lift Major League Soccer to unprecedented heights, but when he abruptly abandoned his stated mission in January for more prestigious duty in his native Europe, his purported goal became phony and rather pathetic.”

Perhaps, the 34-year-old could have patched up things with his fans, and other supporters of the game in the U.S, if he had returned and apologised for letting them down.

Instead Beckham, whose professionalism and commitment had been questioned by his team mate Landon Donovan, in a new book, thought that making up with Donovan would be enough of a gesture. It clearly was not.

LOAN DEAL
On his return, Beckham could have told the L.A fans: “I am sorry for letting you and the team down but I really felt I needed to finish the season in Italy. Now though I am back with you and 100 percent committed to this club”.

He could not say that, however, as he is already eyeing another six-month loan deal to Europe, perhaps to Milan, perhaps to an English team.

“At the moment all I’m concentrating on is being part of this team (L.A) and being successful with this team. Once the season is over, then I will decide and decide what I do from then on,” he said last week.

It is hardly the kind of talk to convince fans he really cares about the long-term future of their team.

What is occupying Beckham’s mind is the need to keep himself in the good books of England manager Fabio Capello, who the midfielder says wants to see him playing in Europe before next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

“Leading up to the World Cup, the England manager has made it very clear to me that I need to be playing at a European level,” he told reporters last week. “So I will do everything possible… I’ll always regret it if I didn’t do everything and to give myself a chance to be involved in that.”

The puzzling aspect is why, if Beckham’s number one priority is playing for England in the World Cup, he chose to come and play in Major League Soccer at all?

Perhaps it was the appointment of Capello that changed things — in which case, why has Beckham not sought a permanent transfer away from Galaxy to a club in Europe?

Major League Soccer faces a tough task in establishing its credibility among sports fans in the United States as a serious professional league and Beckham, rather than showing this is a league that attracts quality foreign players, is merely adding to the belief of some that MLS is not something to be taken too seriously.

There was one positive for MLS that came out of Sunday’s anti-Beckham protests: the Galaxy fans showed the world that they are not star-struck kids in awe of the celebrity Beckham but are as passionate, loyal — and as rude — as fans anywhere else in the world.

Fans of Manchester United or Real Madrid would not put up with one of their top players spending half the season with another team in another league and Galaxy supporters showed they do not accept such an arrangement either.

Boos and protests, while headline grabbing, are not good for any team or any league. The question now is how long Beckham, Galaxy and the MLS are prepared to let the situation continue.

11 comments

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soccer is the best

Posted by jordan | Report as abusive

wane roony is the best soccer player in the world

Posted by jordan | Report as abusive

i think everyone deserves what they get from this. the galaxy deserve being ridiculed by their own player after agreeing on an insulting 250 million 5-year deal with an average player. the player makes a fool of himself because he says he is committed to the Galaxy and then he says he is committed to playing in the world cup and he also wants to play for Milan. MLS soccer is a joke for allowing such a deal to go through, the English national team is a joke for continuing to pick the grandad of mediocrity (with whome they have never won anything and as long as he plays they never will) and their coach capello is another joke for insisting to pick the one-legged freak despite having the choice of several younger, more interesting and better players in the world’s best league.

Posted by micro | Report as abusive

Micro has just about echoed my view. The Galaxy fans are right, while Beckham’s hypocrisy shows just how right Sir Alex Ferguson was to sell him to Real Madrid.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive

Thank you for this article which dares to point out the phoniness and hypocrisy of Beckham. The British media it seems have been less forthcoming and are even at pains to point out Beckham’s disgraceful conduct and treatment of LA Galaxy. Beckham deserves all the jeers ahd boos and more for the disdain with which he is treating the LA and MLS fans. The fans deserve better.Also agree with Micro’s post. Just could not understand why Milan wants him. Surely it cannot be to sell shirts as who else is there to buy his shirts? Beckham is yesterday’s story. It is clear now that he went to LA to sell his brand and for his toothpick wife to hang out with celebs. It will be best if he leaves so we will be spared of his and his wife’s ugly sight in undies!

Posted by kaos | Report as abusive

I have been a fan of David Beckham for years and years and I would say that his heart has always been with the team that he plays for, he always gives 100% for the team. That is until he went to LA Galaxy. He thought he was going to make a difference to the american game, but it was just too much for one person to do. I think he was happy to wind down his days at the Galaxy until Capello came in and gave him hope for more starts with England. Beckham’s attitude completely changed after that. Yes the Milan move was good as it kept him fit and winning places for England but Becks should have shown loyalty and returned to the Galaxy when the new season started. He brought this on himself and the wording of some of his comments tells me that he will not be at galaxy come the start of next season

Posted by braidsy | Report as abusive

I think everyone should just calm down, at the end of the day Beckham is first of all trying to make a living. Yes, he might get a ridiculous salary but if offered to any of you reading this would you turn this down?? He obviously thought his career was coming to an end so when one of euro’s elite team’s come calling he has seen the thought of again playing top class football for club and country and also to play in a top euro leauge regardless of money and not playing in that mls (minor league soccer). The Galaxy fans should be forever thankfull for the attention he has brought to them as they would never of had it without him. Of course one player couldn’t transform the MLS nobody could it will never pass the likes of football, basketball or even baseball in the states. I give him resepct for at least trying.

Posted by Blue Boy | Report as abusive

The MLS did not pay out Becks $250mil, he got or will get most of that from sponsors, merchandise, etc. In reality, the owner of the Galaxy is paying out Becks salary which is more around $6-10mil annual – tiny compared to the total amount he was contracted to make.But since $250mil was for 5 years, looks like he will not pocket all of that after all since he wants to leave.

Posted by G | Report as abusive

It amazes me just how stupid American football fans really are.We who know about the game laughed when LA signed Beckham.Beckham is a specialized player. His job was to score goals when the team needed them and there are very few in the world as good as him at doing just that.Beckham scores goals, he takes free kicks, he sets up goals with precise crosses this is his specialty.LA Galaxy are a bush league team with a bunch of ignorant fans, Galaxy would not be capable of playing in the English 3 rd division.

Posted by A Goram | Report as abusive

“Fans of Manchester United or Real Madrid would not put up with one of their top players spending half the season with another team”And therein lies the rub – LA is not MU or RM. It is very easy to criticize someone when you are standing on the sidelines. DB is still a great player – he was instrumental in helping AC milan move into an automatic champions league berth and propel the team to second overall in Serie A. If DB made a mistake it was in underestimating the caliber of play in the MLS – which IS second rate – and his own desire to continue to play internationally. that is not a crime! LA has without doubt made money off of DB – if it were not the case they would have released him when he requested it back in March. And – contrary to previous posts and erroneous assumptions he does not have a $250 million dollar contract. It is easy to take idiotic cheap shots – i.e., England have not won anything with him, guess what, england have not won anything with anyone since 1960! With regard to Fergie and MU – it took united almost another 10 years to win the champions league after beckham was stupidly shown the door – ditto for Jap Stam and Roy Keane – decisions, Fregie, the crusty old scot, surely regrets though he would never admit it. Personally i hope DB gets his release from LA and has a great WC!

Posted by sisyphus969 | Report as abusive

anyone any views on the latest beckham story? This is very strange. For anyone that has not heard beckham was taking a throw in when someone shouted abuse at him about his missus, beckham replied is that an england shirt. the guy came down and beckham shook his hand, afterwards beckham cracked up and blasted the guy. why shake his hand? Beckhams hanging about with too many movie stars, he is losing his marbles.lol

Posted by braidsy | Report as abusive

[...] before you, here after you, here despite you Reuters summed up the entire Becks/MLS situation the best: He was supposed to be the man who would take soccer in the United States to the next level yet [...]