David Beckham - The Mission is Over
When David Beckham came to play for Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007 soccer fans looked up to him as a missionary who would make soccer popular in the United States. Two years later Beckham's "mission" seems to be over. The 33 year old captain of the English national team played for AC Milano during the winter months because the Major Soccer League took a break. He was fascinated by playing for one of the top teams in Europe so much that he wants to stay in Milano for good.
Even though Beckham's era is coming to an end, he has done a lot to improve soccer's image in the United States. He created a mania, not only in Los Angles but across the nation. When Beckham arrived he was on posters and billboards everywhere. His wife, Posh, had her own TV show and David even made it on the cover of Sports Illustrated, a big honor for a soccer star.
Beckham also had a big effect on the number of visitors at Major League Soccer Games. In one of his first matches for Galaxy in New York, 66,000 fans came to see him. Galaxy's home crowd increased by 25%. When the team played in other cities many fans came just to see Beckham. They wanted their money back when they found out that he was injured and wouldn't play.
Soccer has become very popular on TV too. Big sports channels which have ignored the sport in the past are showing games. Americans are even interested in European League games as well.
Beckham has been a great win for sponsors. Galaxy became the first team to put a sponsor's name on their shirts. Manufacturer Adidas is also pleased because the Galaxy jersey became the biggest seller in 2007.
Even though Beckham did so much for the soccer hype, his team LA Galaxy didn't quite do so well. When he came to the USA after playing for Real Madrid for half of the season he only played five games because of an ankle injury. Galaxy finished in 11th place in the 13-team league.
In 2008 he scored 5 goals in 25 matches but that didn't help Galaxy either. The team finished at the bottom of the league table. The biggest problem was that, apart from Beckham, the team didn't have any other good players. This is not surprising, when you consider David's 5.5 million dollar salary. Some of his fellow teammates earned as little as 13,000 a season.
Nevertheless, David Beckham has made a lasting impression on North American soccer. After his departure the sport will continue to grow, as TV ratings show. The World Cup qualifying match between the USA and Mexico attracted 10 million to the TV screens. This shows that soccer is becoming a fashionable sport in the US.
America's population mix is also contributing to the popularity of the game. In the next decades 25% of the American population will be Hispanics and they have soccer in their blood.
Maybe in the near future another team can bring in a world class soccer superstar, but whoever that maybe, he won't shine like Beckham.
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- ankle injury = to hurt yourself where your leg joins your foot
- attract = here: watched by
- billboard = a large sign with ads
- channel= television station
- consider = think about, look at
- contribute = add
- cover = the front part of a magazine
- decade = ten years
- departure = to leave
- earn = to get money for working
- effect = impact, result
- era= time
- even though =although
- fashionable = trendy, in
- fellow = colleague
- Hispanic = someone who comes from an American country where Spanish or Portuguese is spoken
- honour = something that makes you very proud
- hype = mania, love for something
- impression = the opinion or feeling you have about someone
- improve = to make better
- increase = to go up
- injure = hurt
- jersey = shirt that soccer players wear
- league table = rankings
- Major Soccer League = the North American professional soccer league
- mania =a love for something
- manufacturer = producer
- mission= job, task
- missionary = here: someone who goes to another country and tries to make a sport popular there
- nevertheless = even though
- pleased = happy, glad
- popular = liked by many people
- popularity = when something is liked by many people
- ratings = list that shows how good or bad TV shows are
- salary = the money that you get every month or every year
- score =make
- shine = to stand out, to be so good
- soccer = European football is called soccer in the United States