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SBD Global/May 20, 2013/International Football

Beckham Tightlipped About Talks With Major League Soccer Over Franchise Ownership

David Beckham is hurled into the air by his Paris St. Germain teammates Saturday in what was likely his last game.
David Beckham could return to the U.S. as "owner of a new club and his advisors have already held talks" with Major League Soccer, according to Simon Evans of REUTERS. Beckham has "been tight-lipped about his future plans" after ending the season with Ligue 1 Paris St. Germain. The former England captain's contract with MLS, signed when he joined the L.A. Galaxy in '07, included an option to purchase an ''expansion franchise.'' Beckham's advisors, which include management team Simon Fuller's XIX Entertainment, have "discussed with the league some of the possible locations for an eventual team." MLS Exec VP of Communications Dan Courtemanche said, "There have been discussions with his advisors, his management, preliminary discussions." While Beckham "has always indicated he would use the option," a Beckham spokesperson said it was "early days" regarding any post-retirement plans for the player. Where that team could be based "is a tricky question." The southeastern U.S. is currently without an MLS team, and Miami "has been considered as one of the possible locations." The city has been considered a tough market to crack for MLS (REUTERS, 5/17). In Miami, Michelle Kaufman reported MLS execs have given "no indications of any plans for a Beckham-backed team in Miami and say any talk of a Miami team is speculation." Their "current expansion blueprint centers" on N.Y. and Orlando (MIAMI HERALD, 5/17).

FA ROLE: DIGITAL SPY's Tom Eames reported Beckham "has been courted for a top FA role" by CEO David Bernstein. Bernstein: "He's become an iconic figure in the game. If it's something he wants to do, there's every opportunity for him to become the lead football figure that this country badly needs. As an ambassador for the FA and English football, I couldn't think of anybody better" (DIGITAL SPY, 5/17).

A TEARFUL EXIT: In London, Peter Wilson reported Beckham "kicked his final ball in anger" Saturday night before retiring from the sport "he graced and sometimes hijacked in a 21-year career that brought him medals, a trophy wife and almost certainly a permanent place in The Sunday Times annual Rich List." Although he has not yet confirmed whether he will play in PSG’s last match of the season at Lorient, Saturday night "had a certain finality about it." PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi said afterwards, "It’s up to the coach but I think that will be David’s last match." All Beckham would say after the match, as The Beatles’ Hello, Goodbye rang out around the ground, was, "I want to say thank you to everybody in Paris. To my teammates, to the staff, to the fans. It’s been very special to finish my career here. It could not have been any more special. Merci, Paris" (SUNDAY TIMES, 5/19). The London TELEGRAPH reported Beckham hugged his teammates "with tears in his eyes, then walked off the pitch to a standing ovation for the last time." An emotional Beckham "was mobbed by his teammates on the field" when coach Carlo Ancelotti decided to substitute him in the 81st minute of a 3-1 win over Brest on Saturday. Even goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu "ran out to congratulate the former England captain on his career, while Brazil winger Lucas bowed in reverence." As the crowd rose to its feet -- including former President Nicolas Sarkozy -- Beckham "applauded in return as he walked off the pitch slowly before being replaced by Ezequiel Lavezzi" (TELEGRAPH, 5/19).
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