Tucked away at the end of David Beckham’s second of his three visits to China this year – and conspicuously absent from his stated itinerary, which included visits to Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou, a photo session with some sick kids, a CSL game and a prime-time TV appearance on CCTV with wife Victoria – was this:
This is exactly what the organizers would have wanted to avoid. Beckham’s first trip to China in March sparked the usual scenes of craziness seen whenever a global celebrity appears in Asia, but everything during Trip 1 seemed to go off without a hitch.
Trip 2 has seen significantly lower media interest so far, but a visit to Tongji University in Shanghai on Thursday sawseven people end up in hospital after students waiting for Beckham to appear broke through the door of the university gymnasium and rushed past a wall of security guards and police.
Now that Sir David Beckham, the God of Branding, has officially hung up his boots, he can concentrate on the Big Problems, like world peace and buying MLS franchises. Becks returns to China next week for the second of three trips this year, as part of his ambassadorial contract with the Chinese Super League. If the first trip was all about the kids, then the second one is all about charity (but like these two, David doesn’t like to brag). Here are the details:
My piece on Beckham for this month’s That’s Beijing/Shanghai/PRD magazines is now online here, taking a look back at the first of three trips Becks will make to China this year in his role as CSL ambassador (headline was not mine, in case any libel lawyers are reading!).
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.