The end of Beckham’s US odyssey

Al Jazeera’s John Terrett ponders the US legacy of the world’s most bankable football star.

David Beckham
Brand Beckham arrives at the Home depot Center Stadium in 2007 [GALLO/GETTY]

The football superstar David Beckham went out on a high on Sunday helping his team LA Galaxy beat Houston to win the MLS Cup in the last year of his contract.
Simply put Beckham is one of the greatest ambassadors the game of football has ever seen.
A millionaire with a pop star wife he came to the US as a player known the world over.
Now that his five year $250 million deal with LA Galaxy has ended … what will his legacy be?

Brand power
“They say a brand is a reservoir of cash that’s yet to be tapped,” said brand expert Dean Crutchfield.

“Well he tapped it and he tapped it really well but he also brought the team, the game and the United States a new focus, a new attention.”
But despite massive advertising campaigns and a huge merchandising machine promoting Beckham all over the country, football is still more popular at the grassroots level, among kids and weekend players, than it it is at the professional level where it is eclipsed on TV by American football, baseball and basketball.
Part of the issue is the game lacks a role model here in the United States. A superstar player that people can look up to.

That was the job that David Beckham was sent here to do.
I went to watch the final of the 9 vs 9 Tubman Co-ed Recreational League being played on a plastic pitch at a school in Washington DC.
The players I met were grateful that Beckham settled in the US and did what he could to strengthen the game’s popularity, but said his star power didn’t quite go far enough.

Where next? Beckham has hinted at two ‘big European clubs’ showing an interest [GALLO/GETTY]

“It’s not the biggest sport in the United States but I definitely think it’s got a lot more attention especially the women’s side,” said player Mercedes Walters.

“This past World Cup I’ve seen more women watch that for the women’s side than I’ve ever seen,”
Jerry Pearce, the game’s referee added:
“We’ve see more people stepping up and saying hey we want to be a part of the soccer community – we’re a fun bunch”

Now Beckham faces a choice: re-sign to LA Galaxy, retire from the game or join another club.

He is known to want to keep fit for next year’s Olympics Games in London.
He is also rumoured to be talking to the Qatari owned Paris Saint Germain.
Cynics say he went to LA because his wife fancied the Hollywood lifestyle and now he’s flirting with the French capital because Victoria wants to launch an haute couture brand in Paris.
I don’t know!
But I do know this: if he leaves the US he’ll be walking away from this part of the world having made roughly one million dollars a week.

Although some say his time here was more style than substance he seems to have at least won the hearts of many amateur US football players.

Source: Al Jazeera