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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 July 2007, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
What the US media make of Beckham
By Owen Phillips

David Beckham
Beckham turned his back on Europe to try his luck in the US

Less than 48 hours after David Beckham's offical unveiling as an LA Galaxy player, the fuss is already beginning to die down.

The column inches are still being devoted to his arrival, but the US sport staples of basketball, baseball and American football are back in their rightful place as the headline news and back-page leads.

And the soccer chat is fast being replaced by talk of Beckham's better-known wife Victoria, aka Posh Spice, not to mention celebrity chums, chat shows, shirt sales and Brand Beckham in general.

The LA Daily News seems to capture the mood of most sports fans: "When it was announced in January that David Beckham would be coming to the United States, the news was greeted across the pond with a collective shrug."

606: DEBATE

David Beckham the footballer already seems to be something of a sideshow.

Despite an impressive media charm session on Friday, his efforts to bring the beautiful game to the seemingly apathetic American masses is already looking like a battle Beckham cannot win.

POSH FACTOR

LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke remains to be convinced by LA's latest superstars.

"He is clearly showing up, not as an athlete but as a celebrity... folks are viewing him not as a leader of men but as the husband of Posh.

"'Access Hollywood' are going nuts about him but I get the feeling that the heart of Los Angeles just doesn't care. Beckham's appeal is as a tourist attraction, the latest Disneyland ride."

Victoria Beckham
Spice girl Posh is better-known in America than her husband

David's other half has already started to take centre stage and her appearance on the Jay Leno Show - one of America's biggest chat shows - will have done little to help any attempts to keep the focus on football.

Posh took the opportunity to launch a scathing attack on Hollywood legend Eddie Murphy over his relationship with her Spice Girl colleague Melanie B.

Everything from babies to Scientology was discussed - but football was not high on the list of priorities.

And on Monday, NBC airs Victoria Beckham: Coming to America. The title suggests football - and even David - will once again not be the driving force.

At least the LA Times has a positive spin on Victoria's influence. "A new diva in town", screams the headline. "The woman the world can't stop watching taking LA by storm."

Posh and Becks already seem entrenched in the celebrity community but it has little to do with football.

It has been widely reported that Beckham talks to actor Tom Cruise most days and that the family went shopping to Toys R Us, but Beckham appears to be a celebrity first and a footballer second.

MAKING MONEY

According to reports, Beckham stands to make about $250m in five years with the Galaxy, but the money he will bring in to the club could make that investment seem a bargain.

Galaxy are already lining up prestigious money-spinning exhibition games in Europe and Asia which will make them millions.

"I think the greatest opportunity is touring and international matches," said Tim Leiweke, chief executive and president of the company who own the Galaxy. "I don't think it is six million dollars a game but I think it could be a pretty good percentage of that."

Even Alexi Lalas, former USA defender and now general manager at LA Galaxy, seemed to be a little too pre-occupied with the cash register. "More than a quarter of a million shirts sold is not a bad couple days. As far as the numbers are concerned, we've tripled our ticket base."

At least Galaxy team-mate Landon Donovan offered a word of advice on how Beckham might ingratiate himself with his new friends. "It would be a nice gesture if he came in and just splashed the locker room with cash for some of the younger guys."

Presumably he was joking.

ON THE PITCH

More than 5,000 fans watched his official unveiling as a Galaxy player at the catchily-named Home Depot Center on Friday. Following the on-pitch ticker-tape, Beckham carried out an incredible 65 television interviews.

His first training session on Monday will be screened live, he's already promoting his sport on the Fox Soccer Channel and the prestigious friendly against Chelsea on 21 July - Beckham's first game, ankle injury allowing - is already being hyped up.

And some people undoubtedly do see him as the man to kick-start the American Soccer revolution.

USA Today hailed Beckham as America's 'soccer saviour'. "As monikers go, Becks doesn't yet have the sizzle of A-Rod [baseball's Alex Rodriguez] or Kobe Bryant. But don't be fooled. It stands for showtime."

But once again, the talk centred around the cash factor with how American soccer was hoping to 'Bank it like Beckham'.

NBC boldly predicted that LA Galaxy's star name could eclipse LA Lakers basketball icon Bryant.

And Jere Longman of the New York Times wrote that Beckham has "undeniable star power" but he added: "Beckham began his soccer career in the United States on Friday with a stadium reception that was part crusade, part contrived spectacle, as if it had been jointly produced by Billy Graham and World Wrestling Entertainment."

A word of caution though, with the player offloaded by the Galaxy to make way for Becks saying the former England skipper is walking into a club in turmoil.

Santino Quaranta said: "From coaches down to the players there is no stability at all - it's mostly chaos. I'm not sure coach Frank Yallop and Lalas are on the same page with their ideas for the team."

CONVERTING AMERICA

The biggest concern for Beckham as he hopes to convert the average American sports fan to soccer will be the fact that he seems to be preaching to the unconvertible.

The following selection of comments were posted on the LA Times messageboard and they seemed to be a fair reflection of the mood.

  • "It is so funny how so many are saying that this is such a watershed event for soccer in the US. This will buy MLS a week on Sportscenter, if that. Yawn, Americans don't like soccer, we never have and we never will. Ever... ever.... ever..."

  • "I can't put this more plainly. I care about these Beckham people about as much as I care about an ant crawling in a jungle in Peru."

  • "Becks will have a moderate impact on soccer's popularity in America. It'll never be football or baseball (or like soccer elsewhere), but it will grow steadily and find its niche somewhere behind the Big 3. Becks is one piece of that puzzle."

  • "Beckham has been bothered for some time that no one in America could care less about him. Congratulations, David, you have gotten your five minutes of fame. Now 10% of the American public will know you are for a few minutes and will then promptly go back to not caring."



    SEE ALSO
    Beckham in Mission Unnecessary
    19 Jul 07 |  Football
    Galaxy rule out Premier club bid
    16 Jul 07 |  Football
    Galaxy to take Beckham to England
    15 Jul 07 |  Football
    Beckham unfazed by pressure in US
    14 Jul 07 |  Football
    Red carpet rolled out for Beckham
    13 Jul 07 |  Football
    Beckham's US test
    12 Jul 07 |  Football
    Los Angeles catches Beckham fever
    13 Jul 07 |  Americas
    Beckham: Then and now
    13 Jul 07 |  Football
    Comment: End of Becks' phoney war
    13 Jul 07 |  Football
    Beckham's arrival in photos
    13 Jul 07 |  Football
    Beckham to be unveiled by Galaxy
    13 Jul 07 |  Football
    First among equals
    12 Jul 07 |  Magazine
    Pele tells Beckham to expect test
    12 Jul 07 |  Football
    Beckham reveals LA Galaxy fears
    11 Jul 07 |  Football
    Beckham's pitch battles
    11 Jul 07 |  Football
    Beckham hype gives Galaxy trouble
    10 Jul 07 |  Football
    Beckham faces friendly in Sydney
    03 Jul 07 |  Football
    Galaxy set date to unveil Beckham
    29 Jun 07 |  Football
    Adios Beckham
    19 Jun 07 |  Europe
    Beckham assured of England future
    15 Jun 07 |  Football
    Beckham warned over flight risks
    08 Jun 07 |  Football
    Long-haul Beckham
    07 Jun 07 |  Football
    Beckham agrees to LA Galaxy move
    12 Jan 07 |  Football


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