Beckham in Afghanistan

And before anyone asks, no, I don’t know why we’re getting advance word of a supposedly “surprise visit,” but the part-time Galaxy player never passes up the opportunity for some good publicity:

LONDON (AP) — David Beckham is flying to Afghanistan for a surprise visit to boost morale for the thousands of British troops stationed there.

The British Forces’ news service says the soccer star is accompanying troops on a flight from Oxfordshire to the British military base in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.

The former England captain will meet hundreds of British and American troops, as well as medical staff and patients.

The 35-year-old Beckham is also expected to drum up support for England and its bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

Beckham said Friday he has wanted to visit Afghanistan for a long time. He says he admires the troops and their work makes him “very proud to be British.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

World Cup derby: Becks, bids, bikes & megabucks

i-66b371c8b5217a115fa5300efb136300-carlosbid.jpgSunil Gulati, President of the U.S. Soccer Federation, U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra and FIFA President Joseph Blatter pose with the U.S. bid book. (AP Photos).

ZURICH (AP) – Nine candidates to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022 brought big hitters including David Beckham, the crown prince of Qatar and billionaire benefactors to hand over their bid books to FIFA on Friday.

“It is now the kick off,” FIFA president Sepp Blatter told Australia’s delegation, which led
in alphabetical order.

Four bidders from Europe, four from the Asian confederation, plus the United States presented their technical documents at the headquarters of soccer’s global governing body.

The formal handover started the final phase of campaigning, when FIFA will analyze the
candidates’ plans before its executive committee chooses the two tournament hosts in

While England and the United States say they have venues ready to host a World Cup,
construction projects for Qatar and Russia would run to several billions of dollars.

“It will require huge investment, but nothing that can’t be done,” said Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, heir apparent of the Qatari state.

Sheik Tamim called on FIFA to award the Middle East its first World Cup, and break down barriers as it did by giving this year’s World Cup to South Africa.

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said an American World Cup needed no public funds and would average 76,000 spectators per match, a tournament record.

“We think we offer FIFA an extraordinary opportunity in the U.S., commercially and
soccer-wise,” Gulati said.

Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy said he recognized it was a difficult

“We hope and pray that we might be the lucky country,” said Lowy, a billionaire businessman leading the bid.

England’s bid team was fronted by Beckham — the star of the show when candidates were brought together in Cape Town six months ago.


Beckham said his country had a passion for soccer running through its veins, and a diverse population that would welcome the world. Every team will turn up and have their own fans supporting them,” said Beckham, who is vice president of England’s campaign.

Blatter described England as “the motherland of football,” and said new British Prime Minister David Cameron called him on Thursday offering government support for the bid.

The FIFA chief dropped several hints that England should focus on hosting in 2018, and teased bid leaders whether they meant to include “2022” on the cover of their book. Europe is favored to be given the 2018 finals, with England and Russia competing against joint bids from Netherlands-Belgium and Spain-Portugal. All four are also in the 2022 race but would be barred if one gets the 2018 tournament.

Russia’s bid team gave Blatter a letter from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has made
hosting the World Cup a national priority. Igor Shuvalov, first deputy prime minister, said Russia had become unofficial favorite in the 2018 race because the nation of 200 million people offered the most potential to spread the game.

“Russia can deliver more than England or Spain,” Shuvalov said. “Development will be on a different level.”

i-47554d832cd67ed97527fc320987ce46-bikeruud.jpgDutch playing greats Ruud Gullit, left, and Johan Cruyff presented the Netherlands-Belgium case for a green finals, promising to provide two million bicycles for fans to use.

Australia and the U.S. also are bidding for both contests. Japan, Qatar and South Korea have focused solely on 2022, believing Europe is a lock for 2018 because the 2010 tournament is in South Africa and Brazil hosts in 2014.

The U.S. was last of the nine scheduled to meet Blatter and deliver its five-volume technical plan.

Each bid book explains how the monthlong, 64-match tournament would be organized, with details of at least 12 stadiums, plus training camps, hotels, security protocols, IT and medical support, and fans’ entertainment.

Candidates must also give FIFA copies of government guarantees, contracts with each city and venue, and details of finance and insurance.

FIFA officials will use the bid books as the basis for technical inspections of each
candidate, starting with Japan from July 19-22 and ending Sept. 13-17 in Qatar.

Chilean federation leader Harold Mayne-Nicholls will lead the inspection team, which also includes Dali Tahir, a member of the FIFA ethics panel. It is monitoring the bid process to ensure candidates do not try to influence FIFA officials with gifts and inducements.

FIFA’s 24 executive members will choose the two hosts on Dec. 2 in Zurich.
Five of the current bidders have previously staged a World Cup: England (1966), Spain (1982), U.S. (1994), and Japan and South Korea (co-hosted 2002).

Five nations — Brazil (1950 & 2014), France (1938 & 1998), Germany (1974 & 2006), Italy (1934 & 1990) and Mexico (1970 & 1986) — have been awarded two World Cups.

Here’s more on the U.S. bid:

NEW YORK (AP) — The United States has proposed holding the World Cup draw in Miami ahead of a tournament in 2018 or 2022 and suggested the possibility of hosting the opener in Dallas.

The U.S. bid, presented to FIFA on Friday, would put the qualifying draw in New York, its
location ahead of the 1994 tournament.

U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said from Zurich that the proposals were “very preliminary.”

Gulati also said FIFA has not brought up the new immigration law in Arizona but suggested “it may not need to cost us votes.” The U.S. proposed 18 cities and Gulati noted only 12 were needed, a sign Glendale could be dropped if it becomes and issue.

FIFA’s executive committee will choose the 2018 and 2022 hosts on Dec. 2.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

David Beckham: Greek God?



Britain’s poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy was inspired by David Beckham’s Achilles’ tendon injury to write this verse titled “Achilles.”

“Myth’s river — where his mother dipped him, fished him, a slippery golden boy flowed on, his name on its lips.

“Without him, it was prophesied, they would not take Troy.

“Women hid him, concealed him in girls’ sarongs; days of sweetmeats, spices, silver songs…

“But when Odysseus came, with an athlete’s build, a sword and a shield, he followed him to the battlefield, the crowd’s roar,

“And it was sport, not war, his charmed foot on the ball…

“But then his heel, his heel, his heel…”

As one wit wrote, can’t wait to read the poem about Toger Tiger Woods.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Sign of the Times


How the mighty have fallen.

This is the Marshall’s store at Torrance’s Del Amo Fashion Center over the weekend (pic snapped via the wife’s cell phone).

There were one or two Chivas USA and Chicago Fire shirts to be found and a whole rack of David Beckham Galaxy blue road replica jerseys, which once sold for around $85, now on sale for $24.99.

Don’t cry for Becks though: he’s doing just fine in Italy.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Your Daily Beckham


But so many people either sent me or are linking to this little gem from one of England’s trashiest tabloids I felt compelled to exploit the story
um, get it on the record.

The deal won’t happen, even without considering the source.

If the wanna-be Real Madrid president planted this, it’s merely a ploy to win votes for the Spanish club’s highly-politicized presidential election. It’s common for candidates to make such promises to fans as in “I will bring you Kaka, Beckham and Josh Wicks.” Well, maybe not, but you get the idea.

Also, Becks has been there and done that (see also why he’ll leave the Galaxy this fall).

Almost equally as amusing is this cautionary tale for government bureaucrats who want to pander to the public.

And I loved this line at the end of the story: “Although a financial flop, the event is credited with helping to raise New Zealand’s international profile.”

How? As in being the latest schmucks to get taken in by the Beckham hype?

Finally, is it somehow comforting to know we can rely on The Hindustan Times to tell us this.

That is all. You may now resume your non-Beckham news consumption.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

The Inevitable Beckham Poll

Updated Monday 9 a.m.: A belated clarification to the first question in the poll. I should have written “Will propel the team TOWARD the MLS Cup.” In other words, choose that option if you believe Beckham will IMPROVE the Galaxy when he returns. And thanks for voting

David Beckham’s return to the Galaxy in July:
Will propel the team to the MLS Cup.

Is irrelevant and just about making more money before he flees MLS for good.

Will actually hurt the Galaxy more than help. He should stay in Italy.
Free polls from
Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Thursday Kicks

*Loyola Marymount sophomore Rafael Baca of Lawndale was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-Far West Region Third Team, the first Lion to receive the honor since Bobby Burling and Diego Barrera in 2006. He has led LMU in scoring the last two years.

*Long Beach State sophomore midfielder Lindsay Bullock of Manhattan Beach and senior midfielder Hayley Bolt of Lakewood were named to the NSCAA/adidas All-West Region second-team and third-team respectively. Bullock led the team with 10 goals, while Bolt had nine.

*There’s still time to register for the Ventura County Fusion tryouts on Saturday and Sunday.

*Finally, (and trivially) check out how hung David Beckham is here.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Alexi Lalas’ Prescription for the Galaxy: Leadership & No Becks as Captain

It was a pleasant surprise this evening to turn on the New England-Chicago playoff game on ESPN2 and be greeted by former Galaxy GM Alexi Lalas.

Lalas may have had issues as GM, but he’s always articulate and entertaining.

Lalas has kept a low profile since getting fired from the Galaxy and I believe the comments he made about the situation before the game were the first of any depth.

Here’s an excerpt of what he had to say about what new GM and Coach Bruce Arena needs to do:

“His first order of business is to find some leadership, to fill the void that exists in the Galaxy with leadership. He needs to go out there and find some real SOB’s; some guys who don’t care about saying the truth, don’t care about hurting people’s feelings and aren’t afraid they’re going to lose their job for doing so.

“He needs to make one of those guys captain, to be quite honest. This not a question of a Galaxy that doesn’t have talent, it’s a question of there was a leadership void. The fact is you need to send a message that nobody is bigger than the club whether you’re David Beckham or whether you’re Tristan Bowen, an 18-year-old coming into the club.

“Everybody has to understand it’s the team first.

“If I regret something it’s that I recognized that early on and probably didn’t do enough to correct that situation.”

I wonder how Beckham would react to having the captaincy taken away from him? And why does a team that has the experienced likes of Beckham, Landon Donovan and Pete Vagenas not have leaders anyway?

Still, Lalas’ prescription for improving the Galaxy sounds an awful lot like Arena’s, who has essentially said the same thing.

Incidentally, Beckham is joining a team in AC Milan that is top of the Italian league for the first time in four years.

BTW, Beckham is supposedly going to share taking free kicks with Ronaldinho.

And what could be – let’s emphasize the could – Beckham’s first game is the 11:30 a.m. Sunday Jan. 11 encounter against Roma. Fox Soccer Channel will televise that game live.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Email Of The Day

Here’s one response to my column today on David Beckham.

”Funny thing about American sports heroes, they have to perform to earn/retain their status. What has this over-hyped boy done except bundle away a lot of foolishly spent cash?”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email