David Beckham "has promised to donate his entire salary to a children’s charity after completing a deadline-day switch" to Ligue 1 Paris St. Germain, according to Josh Burrows of the LONDON TIMES. Beckham appeared at a press conference Thursday afternoon alongside PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Sports Dir Leonardo. The 37-year-old, who has signed a five-month deal after passing a medical, said his salary would be handed to good causes as part of the "unique" deal. Beckham said, "I am lucky to have achieved what I have. One of the reasons I decided to come to Paris is that we decided on something unique. I won’t receive a salary, that will go to a children’s charity in Paris. It’s something that has not been done before" (LONDON TIMES, 1/31). In London, Declan Warrington noted Beckham's weekly salary that will go to a France charity will be £150,000 ($238,000). Beckham was asked during the press conference "if he had been practising his language skills," but he "conceded that his grasp of the French language stretched as far as one word." Beckham said, "My French? I haven't spoken it for quite a few years, since I was at school, so I'm definitely going to have to brush up on it." On the offers from other clubs, he said: "I was very lucky. I am 37, and I was made a lot of offers -- more than I have ever had in my career" (DAILY MAIL, 1/31).
SPANNING THE GLOBE: The BBC wrote Beckham "will be hoping to win a league title in a fourth country, having already enjoyed success" at ManU and Real Madrid in Europe before moving to Major League Soccer. Beckham "had been close to joining PSG last January but opted to stay in California for one more season." Beckham said, "I don't know if this will be my last contract." He added, "People have been speculating about that for a number of years, but I continue to play and sign contracts. I will see how I feel, but I want to play as long as possible. My passion is football. It always has been. When I play football, it is not about the biggest contract" (BBC, 1/31).
FAMILY TIES: In London, Simon Rice noted Beckham had recently revealed that "wherever he chose to play his football, he would base his family in London." The decision "to choose a club so close to the capital is likely to have taken that into consideration." It is understood that the presence of Leonardo, who Beckham worked with at AC Milan, as well as Manager Carlo Ancelotti, "helped swing the deal." Beckham "had been linked with a move to the Serie A club where he enjoyed two loan stints." AC Milan Dir Umberto Gandini tweeted: "Very happy to see Beckham going to PSG and under Mr. Ancelotti again!" (INDEPENDENT, 1/31). Also in London, Lina Saigol noted PSG has spent more than €250M ($339M) in transfers since Qatar Sports Investment, which owns PSG, bought the club in June '11 -- "outstripping any other European club during the period." That figure includes a three-year deal with Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who transferred form AC Milan in July for a reported fee of €20M (FINANCIAL TIMES, 1/31).
NO ORDINARY FOOTBALLER: In London, John Lichfield wrote, "One event dominated most news sites in France today -- 'Le Spice Boy' is coming to Paris. Football is "not an all-consuming passion in France -- and certainly not in Paris." If PSG had signed "any other 37-year-old, one-time footballing great, most of the city would have shrugged and asked: 'qui?'" However, Beckham "is not just a footballer." He is "'un people' -- the franglais word coined by the French press to mean a 'celeb'" (INDEPENDENT, 1/31).
ONE LAST SHOT: Also in London, Dan Jones opined the Beckham doubters "will pose serious questions about whether his legs, weakened by age and the serious Achilles injury he sustained playing for Milan before the 2010 World Cup, have enough left in them to cope -- or at least, not be embarrassed -- by Ligue 1 and the knockout stages of the Champions League," in which PSG plays at Valencia on Feb. 12. However, to ask it is "to misunderstand the nature of the deal." What the ’13 version of Beckham lacks in endurance or agility he "more than makes up for in sheer prestige." "Good luck" to Beckham in France, and a "pox on anyone who sneers." This is a man who "has almost single-handedly invented the archetype for the successful modern professional." He "deserves one last turn in the spotlight" (EVENING STANDARD, 1/31).
QUESTIONS LINGER: In N.Y., Rob Hughes opined how will Beckham fare in a French league where PSG is "barely able to stay on top?" And how might his presence "alter the style, and the dressing-room camaraderie," just one month before PSG faces Valencia in the Champions League? Any other questions -- about the effect on the club brand and on creating awareness for the Qatari project -- are "possibly the easy part." Al-Khelaifi said, "Beckham is bigger than sport. He is an ambassador, a brand, an example for others" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/31). In London, Paul Wilson wrote on the GUARDIAN’s The Sport Blog, "It will be interesting to see if Beckham and Ibrahimovic can function as a working partnership." Most of the commentary so far has "centred on whether the famously haughty Swede can cope with this threat to his ego." He "probably will, for although Beckham is likely to capture a good deal of off-field attention, especially in the early weeks, even in his prime he would have found it difficult to match Ibrahimovic’s exploits on the pitch" (GUARDIAN, 1/31).
FRENCH REACTION: In Paris, Cyrille Haddouche wrote PSG’s signing of Beckham was a “marketing coup.” The move will have “enormous repercussions in terms of image and financial revenue.” Beckham means “glamour, glory and beauty.” PSG’s merchandising department “is already rubbing its hands together.” Beckham’s jersey will sell like hotcakes. The “handsome Brit” could also feminize the Parc des Princes a little more. The move of the “global icon” will give a big boost to the Ligue 1. For Al-Khelaifi, who also runs broadcaster beIN Sport, Ligue 1 will have the “ideal ambassador to commercialize the rights to the French league abroad.” Beckham’s arrival “will attract markets that previously cared little” for the league, such as Asia (LE FIGARO, 1/31). RTL reported former France national team coach Raymond Domenech "liked the move" for PSG. Domenech said, “It is good news for football because people will talk about PSG, Beckham, French football. Instead of players leaving the league, maybe we will be able to bring players and rebuild a league worth its name” (RTL, 1/31). RMC SPORT reported Deschamps was also a fan of the signing in terms of the media exposure it would give Ligue 1. Deschamps said, “In terms of the media exposure of Ligue 1, it is a very, very good thing. He is a player whose personality goes beyond football, as is the case with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Away from our borders, they allow Ligue 1 to have more visibility” (RMC SPORT, 1/31).