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In Europe, the star won’t be missed.

The week's news at a glance.

Brand Beckham

With his movie-star looks, David Beckham belongs in Hollywood, said Hugh McIlvanney in the London Sunday Times. The world-famous soccer star, at one time captain of England’s World Cup team, is leaving Europe to play on an American team for an astronomical salary. Including endorsements and a cut of the profits, Beckham could make as much as $50 million a year over five years with the Los Angeles Galaxy. What a contrast with his prospects in Europe. Cut from England’s national team and frequently benched by his club team, Spain’s Real Madrid, he faced only “a sad drift toward an increasingly peripheral role in an inadequate squad.” For the truth is that, at 31, Beckham is not even “among the top 50” European footballers.

Good riddance, said soccer legend Jimmy Greaves in the London Sun. Beckham once loved the game. His gorgeous, bending free kicks helped Manchester United dominate in the 1990s. But now he’s become “a parody of himself.” Prancing in front of the cameras with his glamorous, ex–Spice Girl wife, Beckham is now more celebrity than athlete. He spends far more energy on his “cringeworthy attempts to stay in the spotlight” than he does on the field. “Let us not forget” that he probably cost us the 1998 World Cup in France when he was kicked out of the game for unsportsmanlike conduct. And at the next Cup, in Japan in 2002, “he was not fit enough to play,” yet forced himself onto the team so he wouldn’t miss the trip. “He will not be remembered as an England great.”

Still, Real Madrid would have hung onto Beckham, said José Manuel Cuéllar in Madrid’s ABC. True, his athletic performance had deteriorated, and he was getting less and less playing time. But the star’s marketing power never waned. “Because of the income Beckham could still generate” from ticket and T-shirt sales, Real Madrid tried hard to come up with a tempting offer. In the end, though, Beckham got a far more lucrative deal from the L.A. Galaxy. And, as he says, he has a unique chance to get Americans excited about the world’s most popular sport.

Jemima Lewis

London Independent

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