The David Beckham Press Conference (TM) was shown live on CCTV-5, the Chinese national broadcaster’s sports channel, at 2.30pm Beijing time today (and included a couple of searching questions from yours truly!). Here are five things I’d wanted to know, along with the answers:
1. What was the most inane question asked at the press conference?
Answer: Inanity Prize shared between Kid on Stage (How old is your daughter? A: 21 months) and Sky News (How are your chopsticks skills? A: They’re great.)
I’ve already had people ask me what time David Beckham is arriving on Wednesday so they can camp out early at the airport. Whether he appeals to smitten females or potential soccer fans (or both), one thing is certain: Beckham’s visit to China will be crazy. Let’s just hope no one gets trampled….
Here’s my Sports Talk column from today’s Global Times on how he’s made a career out of proving the doubters wrong:
“T.I.C. This is China. It’s just a completely different world over here.”
That was Michael Phelps’ assessment after playing golf with Matt Kuchar at Mission Hills golf club in Haikou. He kept he temper remarkably well, despite, hole-after-hole, losing his ball to Chinese fans hellbent on snagging a souvenir. Admittedly, as the video shows, he’s not the straightest hitter, but even when he nails the middle of the fairway, the ball is gone by the time he gets there.
“Someone picked it up and had a pen for me to sign it.”
There is just one more week to go until Sir David of Beckham touches down in these fair lands. His itinerary is still unknown but if you camp out at Beijing Capital International Airport next Wednesday (March 20th), you’ll have as good a chance as any of catching a glimpse of the former-footballer-turned-celebrity. Just remember to bring ear plugs.
A round-up of what’s been happening this week (Beckham stuff at the end!):
The NBA announced eight international preseason games for next season. For Asian fans that means Pacers vs Rockets, Manila, Oct 10; Pacers vs Rockets, Taipei, Oct 13; Lakers vs Warriors, Beijing, Oct 15; and Lakers vs Warrior, Shanghai, Oct 18.
(UPDATE: Deal is for one year, not three as reported by QQ. Terms still not announced, but People’s Daily reporting Becks is getting 2 million euros ($2.6 million) for his troubles, paid in large part by a sponsor, so at little cost to the CSL).
David Beckham’s much discussed ambassadorial role for the Chinese Super League (CSL) will see him visit China three times this season. His Excellency will miss the league’s opening ceremony on March 8 due to UEFA Champions League commitments with PSG (though he could appear by video link or recorded message), but Becks will likely come at the end of Marchis due to arrive in Beijing on March 21 (PSG don’t play March 18-29 inclusive) and will stay in China for about a week, also visting Shanghai and Guangzhou. He’ll return at the end of May after the French season ends on May 26, and will visit a third time in November towards the end of the CSL season (UPDATE: when he’s expected to be a captain for – but not play in! – the CSL All-Star Game).
The news was confirmed on Friday by Yu Hongchen, Vice Chairman of the Chinese Football Association (CFA) and Chairman of the CSL. Yu didn’t disclose the terms of the deal, but IMG – who helped broker the deal – told me it was a one year agreement (though QQ are reporting a three-year deal). The money – again, not confirmed – is reported to be an annual sum of 20 million yuan (roughly $3.2 million) (UPDATE: Source told me this is “not even close”, but whatever the true sum, he’s clearly getting decent money – plus whatever he can make in endorsements on the side – for what amounts to three brief visits to China).
The speculation towards the end of last year that David Beckham would end his career playing in the Chinese Super League (CSL) just didn’t make any kind of sense – either for Beckham the player or Beckham the brand. He had offers from English Premier League clubs and from clubs in continental Europe who were still in this year’s UEFA Champions League. China was too far away from his family, who had already relocated from LA to London.
Speculation has appeared in Chinese media that All-World Superstar David Beckham will become an international ambassador for the Chinese Super League (see my earlier report here).
However, IMG, who are attempting to facilitate the deal, has told me that, contrary to reports, nothing has been confirmed at this stage, though negotiations are at an advanced stage (aren’t they always?).
That said, if the deal does get signed, IMG says Beckham may play in China after he has completed his five-month stint in France. They are also in discussions about his potential grassroots support – something China desperately needs – and Becks has experience in this area through his soccer schools – though, ominously, both his London and LA Academies have closed.
China may have lost out in the recent David Beckham sweepstakes, but that doesn’t mean all is lost. According to the Beijing Youth Daily, Beckham will become an international ambassador for the Chinese Super League, beginning this season.
The 99% claim has popped up twice in recent days in the context of Chinese sports, and both times there are less than convincing arguments.
Firstly, a Shanghai Shenhua club lawyer told Sina in reference to Didier Drogba’s contested move to Galatasaray in Turkey:
“We now have evidence which we believe will give Shenhua a 99% chance of winning a lawsuit at FIFA.”
Unnamed legal sources tend to have a habit of exaggeration because they are anonymous –> untraceable –> unaccountable. But I’m pretty sure – 99% sure in fact – that Drogba’s own legal team would have made sure there is a water tight case for breach of contract by Shenhua (presumably for unpaid wages) before he moved to another club.