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Wednesday, 14 June, 2000, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Media sympathy for Beckham's gesture
If the press reflect public opinion, David Beckham's "one fingered salute" to the England fans who abused him has united the nation.
Most papers came out in support of Beckham, whose gesture of defiance came as yobs taunted him after England's 3-2 loss to Portugal.
Top-selling daily The Sun used its back page to demand "Lay off Becks", saying: "Now is the time for every football fan in the country to get behind David Beckham."
The Mirror's front page carried the "vile insults" which provoked Beckham, who had turned in an excellent performance against the Portuguese.
It's editorial called on the majority of England supporters at Euro 2000 to "Shame [the] vile cretins who hurt Becks".
"If you hear them shout this stuff, report them to the authorities. Or better still, drown out their bigotry with pro-Beckham chants."
"Nation united behind Becks" claimed The Daily Star which enlisted TV celebrities to back Beckham and labelled the spectators who abused him as "sub-human filth".
But former Labour Party deputy leader Roy Hattersley, writing in The Daily Mail, accused Beckham of becoming "a national liability".
"The problem with Beckham is that he wants all the benefits of wealth and fame without any of its responsibilities," said Hattersley.
Abused by fans on his return to Blackburn Rovers with Newcastle, the England striker scored the goals that knocked his old club out of the FA Cup.
"He was smart enough to say it with his boots rather than his finger," said Lawton. "It is a lesson young Beckham needs to learn."
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