A couple of weeks ago David Beckham made one of the bravest decisions a modern footballer has taken concerning their career.
The former Manchester United man tuned down offers from a the Premier League and, most significantly, the substantial advances from Paris St Germain.
While Beckham is unlikely to be earning a pittance in L.A., the fact that he refused a contract that would surely have been of astronomical proprtions says a lot about his mission in America.
When Beckham first moved to the MLS many people dismissed it as an easy route into retirement. Those same people suggested the poor standard of stateside soccer meant the former England captain was surely just going for the money.
Beckham insisted he was going there to help raise the profile of football in America and, although there may be an argument for his original move, he has surely signed his new deal for those reasons.
Beckham is now 36-years-old and most definitely in the twilight of his career, so moving back to Europe would most likely lead to him taking a more bit-part role in the playing area, though his active marketing role would probably have been full-time.
However, it was the lure of a legacy that appears to have clinched it for the man who has played for Real Madrid and AC Milan, and the clause in his MLS contract that says he retains the right to start his own franchise has turned out to be too good to turn down.
This was an important decision for me," Beckham said on the official L.A. Galaxy website.
“I had many offers from clubs from around the world, however, I'm still passionate about playing in America and winning trophies with the Galaxy.
“I've seen first hand how popular soccer is now in the States and I'm as committed as ever to growing the game here.”
It is easy to imagine someone of Beckham’s stature and popularity, having been so long in the forefront of the public consciousness and coming to the end of his career, to have some sort of preoccupation with the way in which he is viewed.
This is probably a brand concern as well as any egotistical tick – we must never underestimate his business and marketing acumen when it comes to the brand of Beckham.
Beckham’s playing career is nearing its finale but the clause in his contract means his time in football in America is far from over. Starting a new franchise in a league that, up until the past few years, has been uncertain over its long-term existence.
For reasons like this, the courage shown by Beckham in his decision to stay with Galaxy is something that deserves to be remarked upon. He will be taking a venture into an area he has no real experience of and could quite easily fail.
Beckham made the decision to do this when the offer of safe earnings and, quite probably, an ambassadorial role after retirement were presented by the nouveau-riche side from France’s capital.
The prospect of becoming the figurehead on football’s wave of popularity in a country where it has failed so many times before, must be a pretty picture in Beckham’s mind’s eye.
You can almost see him and his business manager Simon Fuller gazing into the middle distance, visualising the dollars and kudos that would come with being a perceived pioneer and founder of a ever-growing sport – Fuller has said as much.
“When David and I discussed making the move from Real Madrid to the LA Galaxy back in 2007, our minds were firmly focused on the massive opportunity of helping to grow soccer in the United States,” said the businessman.
“We have made great progress over the past five years in raising the profile of soccer domestically and the MLS on a worldwide stage, and we are encouraged by all the results.
“However, clearly this is an ongoing mission and this new deal confirms our commitment to continuing our journey and making sure the world's biggest sport, soccer, continues to grow in the world's most passionate sports loving nation, the USA.”
It may be cynical but for ‘passionate sports loving’ read ‘passionate sports products buying’ and you will find the driving reasons behind the decision to stay in one of the most glamorous cities in the world.
However, do not underestimate the danger of this venture failing doe to the iron grip NFL, MLB and NBA have on the American sports watching public.
This risk means Beckham must be respected for having the courage to take up such a mission.
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