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I'll Tell You What I Want, What I Really Really Want
LiLo, Brit, and Paris, move over. There's a new game in town.
In a stunning announcement, soccer star David Beckham has agreed to a 5 year, reportedly $250 million deal to sign with the LA Galaxy, effective once his contract with Real Madrid expires at the end of the Primera Liga season in June.
The move is not entirely unexpected, given Beckham's loss of standing with both the English national team and with Real. Coming to Tinseltown gives him a platform to retain (and possibly enhance) his worldwide iconic status, made noteworthy in the Keira Knightley flick "Bend It Like Beckham", as well as that of his wife Victoria (aka Posh Spice). Becks and Posh are Britain's preeminent celebrity couple and favorite fodder of the vicious UK tabloids, and are well linked to other Hollywood celebs such as Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
Considering the MLS' miniscule presence in the national sports market, Beckham's arrival represents an attempt to bring soccer into mainstream American culture for the first time since the end of the disco era. And it comes at a steep price - in 2006, Juan Francisco Palencia was MLS' highest paid player at a paltry $1.36 million.
Given the worldwide popularity of the sport, it will be interesting to see whether Becks has enough star power to finally sell the American public to elevate professional soccer to a stature at least as high as the WWE, and bridge the gap with the hugely successful AYSO youth programs. Regardless of whether LA will take greater notice of his ever-changing faux-hawk or his ability to affect the Galaxy-Chivas rivalry by his skill on free kicks, it will be something worth checking out down at the Home Depot Center later this season.
AP photo by Chris Pizzello