Mend it like Beckham – can David Beckham revive China’s football league?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past week, you will be well aware that underpants model and football player David Beckham has been in China following his appointment as the International Ambassador for China’s scandal-plagued Super League.

Despite China’s recent growth and apparent ability to conquer everything,its football league is generally… pretty darn unsuccessful . This is largely due to heavy amounts of corruption and general ineptitude within the government run league. It seems Chinese officials are hoping that the Beckham’s aura can help cancel out the events of the past year, such as the embarrassing match fixing scandals, on pitch brawling and Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka cutting their contracts with Chinese football teams short.

David Beckham has practically achieved cult status in China, and his current appointment is causing quite a stir.

Beckham: Beloved by everyone in China

Many believe that this is simply a publicity stunt being carried out by the Chinese Football Association to divert attention away from the league’s terrible reputation.

The one-man brand is insisting that it certainly isn’t and that he is simply there to promote the sport to young children. At a press conference Beckham stated that: “It is as simple as that. I am not here to clear up anything. I am here to educate the children and give them a chance of becoming professional footballers.”

Despite its grass-roots pretention, his recent visit to China appeared to have Staged Managed Publicity Stunt written all over it.

During his whistle stop tour of China, Beckham did the following:

Football superstar David Beckham (back) embraces a pupil during a press conference.

Handled press conferences incredibly well.

David Beckham poses for a photo with Chinese children.

Posed for photos with children.

David Beckham kicks a ball in China.

Kicked a ball…

David Beckham falls over while kicking a ball in China.

And fell over.

David Beckham gets mobbed in China

Got mobbed.

David Beckham shows off his Chinese tattoo at Peking University.

生死有命,富贵有天 – life and death are decided by fate, riches and wealth by the heavens

And showed off his tat to students at the prestigious Peking University.

So far, so publicity stunt-ish. There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that his presence is going to have a massive impact on the success of football in China or that he will do much to improve footballing opportunities for young children, especially when the sport isn’t even played on a regular basis in schools.

Beckham has also suggested that he may even play for a Chinese team someday.


The Chinese Football Association is obviously hoping that he won’t follow exactly in Anelka and Drogba’s footsteps and get so fed by the state of the league that he quits after a few months.

It just seems that considering the superfluous spending on glamorous international football stars to be brought in and wave at the Chinese fans, it’s a bit of a no-brainer when it comes to wondering why the league has persistent and widespread problems. Rather than wasting money on flying in top international players it might do better to concentrate on its own rising stars and actually tackle problems within the league…


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