Beckham Left Off Olympic Team In A Controversial Decision
British Olympic officials are "keen to find a significant role" for David Beckham at the Games after the former England football captain was left out of the Team GB football squad by coach Stuart Pearce, according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Beckham, 37, "played a key part in securing the Games" for London as part of the delegation that traveled to Singapore in '05. He also worked with LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe as part of the failed bid to land the 2018 World Cup. Coe said, "Team selections are up to the coaches and managers of each sport." He added: "David has been an extraordinary supporter, probably our No. 1 supporter, of the Games from the very beginning and is keen to continue his enthusiastic support right to the end. I will be talking to him about a Games-time role." The absence of Beckham from Pearce's final 18-man squad also "increases the likelihood that he will be involved" in director Danny Boyle's opening ceremony. Bookmakers have "slashed the odds on him lighting the Olympic flame." Meanwhile, LOCOG is also considering whether "he should have an official role". Olympic sponsors adidas and Samsung are "likely to require his presence in London" (GUARDIAN, 6/28).
COACH'S DECISION: In London, Simon Rice reported that Beckham's omission "is a surprise, but suggests Pearce is picking a team based on football reasons." Beckham was named in Pearce's preliminary 35-man squad, but missed out when the roster was cut to 18 players. Beckham said, "Naturally I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me. And like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold" (INDEPENDENT, 6/28). Also in London, Matt Dickinson reported that Pearce has "gone against all expectations" by picking Manchester City's Micah Richards as one of the three over-age players. Pearce also selected Liverpool's Craig Bellamy and ManU's Ryan Giggs as the other two over-age players, "as expected." Richards, meanwhile, caused "such controversy this summer by refusing to go on the standby list" for England at Euro 2012 (LONDON TIMES, 6/28).
EMOTIONAL REACTION: The INDEPENDENT's Tom Peck noted that there was strong reaction to Beckham's omission. Beckham's sister, Joanne, tweeted, “Well .... What a ******* joke ..... Dissapointend and outraged and very sad ..... A point will be proved I'm sure.” Former footballer and current pundit Robbie Savage wrote on Twitter, "Stuart Pearce does make some stupid decisions , ie [Scott} Parker captain of England and no beckham in gb Team , clueless !” Also on Twitter former footballer and current pundit Gary Lineker asked, “There are arguments for and against DB selection. What i don't understand though, is why string him along by including him in a short list?” (INDEPENDENT, 6/28).