One year later, US Beckham-mania slows while MLS grows

(AFP) - David Beckham, who sparked a wave of "Beckhamania" one year ago when he joined the Los Angeles Galaxy, has seen the fascination slow and Major League Soccer grow due in part to his arrival.

The 33-year-old English international midfielder still draws sellout crowds, quadrupling New York Red Bulls attendance to more than 46,000 earlier this month, and Beckham souvenirs remain among the league's most popular items.

While the hype has cooled, attendance leaps when Beckham arrives in MLS venues and he deserves a lion's share of credit for the growth spurt the US league is enjoying, the latest example being plans to add two teams by 2011.

"I'd like to think so," Beckham said of his playing a major role in boosting the sport in America. "It's one of the reasons why I moved here, to be a part of growing the game here. Hopefully people are seeing the changes.

"Attendances are up 20 percent. Shirt sales are up 780 percent, so I heard. So it's going well. That's obviously what the game needs in this country. The hype is there and it's just about keeping it going."

Beckham's 250 million-dollar deal to jump from Real Madrid to the Galaxy brought him and wife Victoria, better known to many as Posh Spice of the Spice Girls, to Hollywood and they have been regulars on the celebrity scene.

While Beckham missed most of his debut season with injuries, he has fulfilled the promise of last year's hoopla this season in quieter fashion and helped ensure the long-term stability and growth of the USfootball league.

"Soccer is definitely changing in this country and it's getting bigger, but it's going to take time," Beckham said.

"It's not just going to happen in a year or two. It's a long-term plan to raise the profile of the game in the country and it's going well so far."

MLS has 14 teams, adding Toronto last year and San Jose this season. Seattle Sounders will join next year with Philadelphia to follow in 2010 and MLS commissioner Don Garber said Thursday that two new clubs will be added by 2011.

Cities being considered for the newest clubs include Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver in Canada and the US markets of Atlanta, Las Vegas, Portland, St. Louis and a second club in the New York area.

"There are a lot of people putting a lot of money into this league and trying to grow it, and in the next few years you going to see that emergence," Beckham said.

"I've always said that the level here is a lot higher than people actually think it is. I've been here a year now and seen some of the talented players and teams that are in this league."

Beckham, whose contract runs through to 2011, has scored five goals and set up seven more for the Galaxy in 16 MLS matches this year. The Galaxy missed the 2007 playoffs but is fighting for the Western Conference lead this year.

More time, money and support will be needed to transform MLS into a league capable of luring big-name stars in their prime from European clubs, but Beckham sees a bright future for US players such as Jozy Altidore, who went to Villarreal of Spain last month from New York.

"It's going to take longer than a year to happen, but this league and the teams in it will start attracting players from Europe," Beckham said.

"It's not just about ticket sales. It's not just about attendances. It's not just about selling shirts.

"On the other side, you see Jozy Altidore go to Villareal and so if you're a good player in this league, you're going to have a chance to play in other big leagues in the world, in Europe.

"To be honest, I've always said that the level is a lot higher here than people actually think it is. Every game is a tough game. We do want to get it to the level of other leagues in the world.

"It will take time, but it's not that far away."

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Facebook’s new name will be Meta
Facebook’s new name will be Meta
Southern Gas Corridor is only alternative to Russian gas - The Economist
Southern Gas Corridor is only alternative to Russian gas - The Economist
UK to remove final seven countries from COVID-19 travel 'red list'
UK to remove final seven countries from COVID-19 travel 'red list'
Loading Bars
Facebook’s new name will be Meta
Southern Gas Corridor is only alternative to Russian gas - The Economist
Georgian NCDC Head urges for vaccination to end pandemic
UK to remove final seven countries from COVID-19 travel 'red list'
Azerbaijani PM meets with Chairman of Turkish Banks Association
Iran announces increase in import of products
USAID and Startup Georgia support launching of coal enterprise
Russia calls for adherence to statements contributing to unblocking of all transport links in S.Caucasus - MFA
Uzbekistan plans to hold meeting on accession to WTO
Azerbaijani Naval Forces hold competition for title of "Best Ships Division" (VIDEO)
Independent Franco-German financial services group considering projects in Uzbekistan
Russia’s Tatneft to repair hundreds of oil wells in Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan discovers new gas fields on Caspian Sea coast
SOCAR increases number of gas filling stations in Romania (PHOTO)
U.S. economy slows sharply in third quarter
Grain clusters, farmers look to sell wheat at market prices in Uzbekistan
Russia is open for cooperation on energy security, climate change — Putin
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 2,420 more COVID-19 cases, 1,358 recoveries
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan approve agreement on transit of dangerous goods
Iran to build power transmission line in Turkmenistan’s Mary
India seeks vaccine loans from ADB, AIIB
Uzbekistan considering to sign new agreement with Gazprom
Let COP26 be COP of actions, not just promises and pledges: India at UN
Azerbaijan's Kapital Bank ready to co-op with startups
Uzbekistan shares electric car import stats for 9M2021
NATO Special Rep appreciates Azerbaijan’s support to NATO in Afghanistan
Uzbekistan discloses volume of grape export to Azerbaijan for 9M2021
Kazakhstan, Huawei sign MoU on extending ICT co-op
Georgia reveals volume of its foreign debt to Azerbaijan
Uzbekistan, Russia eye increase of supply of agricultural products by 2030
Indo-Pacific is a "Fact Of Life": S Jaishankar
Oman approves Covaxin shots for travel without quarantine
SOCAR Turkey’s sales down year-on-year
Kazakhstan, Russia resume negotiations on Khvalynsk, Imashev fields
Kazakhstan’s national postal operator to buy spares via tender
Turkmen officials to discuss TAPI project in Kabul
SOCAR Turkey sees increase in assets
Kazakhstan completes repair of Pavlodar oil chemistry refinery ahead of schedule
Azerbaijan allows administration of fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine
Pasha Bank is ready to support new projects on developing Azerbaijan's startup ecosystem - board member
Kazakhstan increases petroleum oil exports to France
Turkmenistan, Iran expand bilateral relations
Uzbekistan to subsidize difference in average gas price
Merck raises full-year profit target after cancer drug sales help Q3 beat
Nar supports publication of book on veteran teachers
Renesas buys Israeli Wi-Fi chipmaker Celeno for $315m
Turkey receives positive signals from Armenia – Turkish defense minister
Indian forex reserves surge by $58.38 bn in H1
Qatar targets 25% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 under climate plan
Kazakhstan's economy to grow faster than in other EAEU states - EDB expectations
Georgia to keeps tight monetary policy – NBG
India, Sri Lanka and Maldives hold joint exercise on maritime security
Kazakhstan boosts manufacturing volume of gold
Indian Govt looks to revive tourism sector as jab drive gathers steam
Canadian company to invest in exploration of gold deposits in Uzbekistan
Turkish company talks plans for crop, livestock production in Azerbaijan's Karabakh
21 subject olympiad winners enter Baku Higher Oil School
IRENEX shares data on sales of Iran’s NIOPDC at energy exchange
Bahar Azadi gold coin price again falling in Iran
Azerbaijan’s 9M2021 imports of Turkish chemical products increase
Kazakhstan to build capacious renewable energy facilities
PM Modi reaffirms India’s focus on free & open Indo-Pacific
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for October 28
Chief Financial Officer of Azerbaijan's Bravo supermarket chain talks profit prospects
Pension savings in Kazakhstan increase
Iran's Bistoon TPP boosts electricity generation
Romania plays very important role in Azerbaijan-NATO cooperation plan - Azerbaijani president
Konkan Shakti 2021: India, UK take part in maiden bilateral tri-service exercise
Georgian public foreign debt on the rise
During second Karabakh war, we felt support of people of Kyrgyzstan - President Ilham Aliyev
Turkey occupies very important place in international arena today - Azerbaijani President
EBRD talks details of putting out former uranium mining sites in Uzbekistan
Indian-origin Anita Anand is Canada's new Defence Minister as PM Trudeau reshuffles Cabinet
Kazakhstan reports decrease in volume of money transfers
Azerbaijan's Barda city commemorates victims of Armenian aggression during second Karabakh war (PHOTO)
Russia’s Gazprombank projects Azerbaijan’s refinancing rate level
Iran’s Shahid Tondgooyan Petrochemical Company reaches increase in production
Armenia ready to begin delimitation and demarcation of borders with Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani President congratulates Turkish counterpart
Saipem announces time of returning EBITDA to pre-COVID level
Iran shares amount of needed money for construction of roads, bridges in Khuzestan Province
Iran reveals volume of trade turnover via border terminals in Sistan & Baluchestan Province
Saipem reveals revenue forecasts for 2H 2021
Turkey acting jointly with Azerbaijan regarding normalization of relations with Armenia - FM
Saipem sees significant increase in revenues
Turkey reveals number of ships docking at Tekirdag port in 9M2021
Armenia lagged behind Azerbaijan in armaments issue – Armenian president
Azerbaijan talks ongoing work to restore houses damaged from Armenian shelling during Second Karabakh War - Trend TV (PHOTO)
Ryanair vows 5-day refund turnaround after COVID criticism
Hungary talks on measures to diversify gas supply routes
Hungary’s gas reservoirs 86% full, well above EU average
Investment projects in Turkmen oil and gas fields in Caspian Sea discussed at int'l conference
BSTDB ready to support Azerbaijan to meet emission commitments under Paris agreement (Exclusive)
Bank Keshavarzi Iran sees increase in loans issued for purchase of agricultural machinery
SOCAR’s STAR Refinery boosts crude imports
Turkmenistan Airlines simplifies clearance of int’l cargo transportation
Turkmenistan, Danish Haldor Topsoe to co-op in ammonia, methanol production
Azerbaijan sees significant growth in investment in capital market
Iran increases exports through Bilasuvar border checkpoint
All news