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David Beckham graces North American soccer

It's been called "the beautiful game." Soccer, the most popular sport in the world, draws an unwavering devotion from its fans. Yet soccer as a spectator sport has never quite caught on in Canada, despite growing youth participation rates and a series of professional leagues. Still, we've had star players and tasted World Cup play, and many immigrant communities have imported their passion to Canada. CBC Archives looks at soccer in the Great White North.

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He's an aging soccer icon and a superstar in his home country, but he's leaving it behind to head way west. England's David Beckham, known as much in America for his celebrity status and glamourous wife as for his soccer prowess, is going to play for Los Angeles. In this 2007 report from CBC-TV's The National, British soccer pundits weigh in on his chances for success, long before he plays his first Major League Soccer match. "(He's) washed up. It's all over, I think," one recreational player judges. Sports Brand expert Mark Knight notes that Beckham's five-year, $250-million deal means he will earn "in the region of 50 times more than his teammates, if not more."
• In a January 2007 interview with the Associated Press, Beckham was realistic about his chances of changing the soccer landscape in North America. "I'm not saying me coming over to the States is going to make soccer the biggest sport in America. That would be difficult to achieve," Beckham said. "Baseball, basketball, American football, they've been around. But I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think I could make a difference." • Beckham's appeal extends far beyond the soccer pitch. A June 2006 story on the British financial website "This Is Money" calls him "one of the world's most famous sportsmen - a walking trademark and a member of that elite band whose name is as instantly recognisable as that of multinational companies like Coca-Cola and IBM."

• Beckham and his wife Victoria have been attracting massive attention since they began dating in 1997. His sporting fame combined with her musical fame (she was one of the members of the British pop group the Spice Girls) have made them sought-after spokespeople and models for clothing and cosmetics companies and fashion magazines.

• According to Google's year-end "Zeitgeist", "David Beckham" was the most searched sport name or topic on their site in 2003 and 2004.

• Beckham has twice been runner-up in the voting for FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Player of the Year. He is the first British footballer to play 100 UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Champions League matches. He was also the captain of England's national team from November 2000 until the 2006 World Cup finals.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Jan. 11, 2007
Guest(s): David Beckham, Mark Knight
Reporter: Adrienne Arsenault
Duration: 2:20
This clip was edited for copyright reasons.

Last updated: May 17, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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