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SBD Global/March 25, 2013/International Football

Even Ambassador David Beckham May Struggle To Revive Chinese Football

David Beckham's new appointment as the first "global ambassador" for Chinese football looks like another nice sinecure for football's biggest one-man brand, the reality might be tougher, according to Jonathan Kaiman of the London GUARDIAN. Critics say that even Beckham "may be unable to improve the state of Chinese football, an enterprise so burdened by corruption and general ineptitude that even official media treat it as an embarrassment." News agency Xinhua said, "Beckham has no connection with the Chinese league. Now he comes to sell its image instead of actually playing. How can he represent the league? Do we need him?" Rowan Simons, the author of Bamboo Goalposts said, "I think they have tried everything to sort out China's football problems and they can't think of any solutions, so they are trying to divert attention by bringing Beckham in." Beckham's itinerary in China consists primarily of brief visits to Chinese schools and club teams in Beijing, the coastal city Qingdao and the sprawling inland metropolis Wuhan. Beckham left open the possibility of someday playing for a Chinese team. Beckham also distanced himself from Chinese football's "less salubrious associations." He said, "I'm not a politician, and I'm not involved in any scandals and corruption that's gone on in the past. I'm here for the future" (GUARDIAN, 3/22). XINHUA reported the new appointment is seen as an attempt by the Chinese Super League "to further popularize itself home and abroad and inspire young people to participate in the sport." Beckham's schedule in Beijing, Qingdao and Wuhan "included visits to local schools and football clubs, brief kickabouts with young students" -- still wearing his suit, tie and shiny formal shoes -- as well as news conferences (XINHUA, 3/24).
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