Thursday, January 11, 2007

'LA Story Is Just Right For Beckham'

That's the headline on my Guardian blog piece today, although I would have modified it to 'could be just right for Beckham'. As I write, the 'comments' section is filling with undoubted experts telling me how wrong I am.

Major League Soccer is damned whatever it does. For years it was told to relax its rules so that it could sign marquee players, and that by failing to sign big names like Beckham, it had no ambition or marketing nous. When it changed the salary cap rules, as it did last November, to sign him, people immediately protest that MLS is wasting its money, while people who've never seen a US league game in their lives condemn Beckham as a mediocre player (he's not, in many respects) for a mediocre league (which may be true right now, but only in the sense that every league in the world has its great share of mediocre games thanks to negative tactical mores).

My view is that it's a potentially healthy signing for a still developing league. To damn the league, and Beckham, in a fit of internet tub-thumping is easy enough, but as short-sighted as saying that Americans will never 'get' soccer. Millions already do, and many more will in the years to come. Some, even, thanks to Beckham.

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