Sunday Times Suggests David Beckham Could Succeed Where Pele, Best Failed
David Beckham told the world last week he will shake up American “soccer” by forming a team in Miami, according to John Harlow of the SUNDAY TIMES. Beckham "had been anointed as next in line to George Best and Pele as The Man Who Would Interest Americans in Real Football." Pele "had slunk away, stunned by the indifference, and George drunk his bar dry in Hermosa Beach." Americans "may feel guilty they don’t 'get' soccer but they really don’t care: it’s a game for teenage girls not tough enough to be cheerleaders." Yet "something unexpected happened on the way to the stadium." Beckham "put his heart and deeply competitive soul into LA Galaxy, who started winning." At the same time the fortunes of Major League Soccer "were improving." The main problem "has been lack of exposure: soccer is shown on local stations but rarely nationally." And big sports money "is in TV rights." But this too may be changing, said John Godfrey, who recently quit a big-city newspaper to develop one of U.S. sport’s fastest-growing websites, American Soccer Now. Godfrey: "The games always sold well in the stadiums, which attract more people than basketball games, but now soccer offers the prospect of ‘event’ TV. People will pay more for live TV over canned sitcoms. The appetite for sports entertainment of all kinds, not just American football, baseball and basketball, is growing. And Beckham understands that." He added, "He has an amazing reputation in the USA, and not just because he runs around half-naked in Super Bowl adverts. He has charisma -- when you watch him you cannot take your eye off him. And that is what the attention-starved MLS needs. Whatever deal MLS gave him years ago, it’s worth it for days like the Miami announcement" (SUNDAY TIMES, 2/9).