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Fuente: David Beckham Is Coming to America. NYT's. 22 ene 07

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January 12, 2007
David Beckham Is Coming to America
David Beckham is coming to America.

The 31-year-old English midfielder, weary of the politics and the lack of playing time in Spain with Real Madrid, today agreed to a five-year deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer and will join the team when his contract with Real expires on June 30. According to reports in the British news media, the deal includes salary and commercial opportunities worth $250 million.

“I am proud to have played for two of the biggest clubs in football and I look forward to the new challenge of growing the world’s most popular game in a county that is as passionate about its sport as my own,” Beckham said in a statement.

Beckham joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2003 on a $50 million transfer from Manchester United, the only club he had played with up until that time. But since Beckham’s arrival in Madrid, that storied club has not won a major domestic or international title. And Fabio Capello, the new coach of Real Madrid, was not nearly as taken with Beckham, his entourage and the constant spotlight on the towheaded player. Capello relegated Beckham to the bench for much of the season.

Earlier this week, Real presented Beckham and his representatives with a new contract offer.

“This week, Real Madrid asked me to make a decision regarding my future and the offer to extend my contract a further two season,” he said. “After discussing several options with my family and advisers to either stay here at Madrid or join other major British and European clubs, I have decided to join the Los Angeles Galaxy and play in the M.L.S. from August this year.”

Under terms of his contract with Real Madrid, Beckham was free to talk with other clubs during the January transfer period. Any switch now would have cost the buying club a hefty fee, but now the Galaxy will obtain Beckham for free after his contract expires.

Beckham led England into last summer’s World Cup, but struggled with injuries and watched as his team was eliminated in a penalty kick shootout against Portugal in the quarter finals. After the tournament, Beckham stepped down as England captain but said he wanted to continue to represent his country. New coach Steve McLaren did not recall Beckham for international duty.

Beckham’s signing by the Galaxy, long-rumored, catapults the league into the global soccer spotlight.

Up until last November, M.L.S. tightly controlled player salaries under its single-entity system, in which the league owned all player contracts and a team’s salary budget could not exceed about $2 million a year, with only a few exceptions. The league’s board of governors voted to relax that restriction and allow each team to sign one player for any amount, of which the league would pay only the first $400,000.

They called it the designated player rule, but to soccer fans in the United States it has been referred to as the “Beckham Rule” since Day 1.

Beckham’s signing represents a confluence of soccer, marketing and pop culture in the perfect locale — Southern California.

Beckham’s wife Victoria, also known as Posh Spice, was a member of the Spice Girls pop group that was popular in the early 1990s. She is known to want to re-launch her singing career and Los Angeles could offer her the opportunity. Mrs. Beckham was seen house shopping in Beverly Hills during December.

In addition, Beckham last summer launched a soccer academy in Los Angeles. He is a long-time spokesman for Adidas, the German sporting goods company that is about to begin the second year of a 10-year sponsorship agreement with M.L.S.

And his addition to the Galaxy roster will give M.L.S. its first, truly global soccer star. His signing with the Galaxy will instantly be compared with the signing of the Brazilian star Pelé by the New York Cosmos in the mid-1970s.

“David Beckham will have a greater impact on soccer in America than any athlete has ever had on a sport globally,” said Tim Leiweke, the president of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, which runs the Galaxy and two other M.L.S. clubs. “David is truly the only individual that can build the bridge between soccer in America and the rest of the world.”

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