Beckham: Our new man in Paris?

 

Paris

France's largest circulation national newspaper yesterday covered its front page with a photograph of an Englishman making a rude gesture.

This was nothing to do with the so-called Franco-British “war of words” over the eurozone crisis, however. The Englishman in question was David Beckham. The headline in the daily sports newspaper, L’Equipe, read: “Le Voila!” Here he is!

According to parts of the French press, it is now a footballing certainty that the Beckham circus will pitch its big top in Paris in the New Year. Two newspapers reported that David Beckham, 36, had agreed in principle to join Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), the French capital’s only football club, majority owned by the Qatari government, for wages and fees which could reach €17m a year.

Beckham’s management company, XIX Entertainment, described the reports as “premature”. The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star might yet decide, a spokesman said, to remain with Los Angeles Galaxy, where his contract expires on 31 December.

No matter. The French newspapers were cock-a- hoop (or perhaps that’s coq-a-hoop) at what one described as a “historic moment for French football”. The arrival of “the planetary star” and “le spice boy” would lift PSG and the French club game into the “global elite”, said Le Parisien.

The newspaper said that plans were already advanced to welcome Beckham, like a conquering hero or visiting head of state, at a reception at Paris town hall. There was also talk of a parade down the Champs Elysée to show him off to PSG fans. At least one of them, a Monsieur N. Sarkozy, works conveniently nearby at the ElyséePalace.

Victoria Beckham was reported to have looked at a glittering town house in the wealthiest district of Paris, between the Champs Elysée and the river Seine. Places were said to have been reserved for the Beckham children at the British School, in the elegant western suburbs of the capital.

Why such excitement at the arrival of a soon to be 37 years old footballer, approaching the end of his career? For two decades, French club football, beset by low income and high taxes, has lost its best talent to foreign clubs. The arrival of Beckham, following the purchase of PSG by a sovereign investment fund of the Qatari government, is seen by some French football pundits as the dawn of a glorious, new era.

Not everyone is “over the moon”. The possible Coming of David, on a basic salary of €800,000 a month, has been criticised by some PSG fans. They complain that this is a marketing and commercial decision to promote the club in Asia and sell its shirts rather than to improve the team.

The Green candidate for next spring’s Presidential election, Eva Joly – not previously known as a football pundit – also took the “sick parrot” side of the argument yesterday. “Given his age and the state of his knees,” she said. “This is about business, not sport”.

Jean-Marc Ayrault, a senior Socialist politician, criticised Beckham’s “enormous” salary. With a share of image and marketing rights, and payments for appearances on the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera TV station,  Beckham’s rewards for moving to Paris could reach €17m a year, according to Le Parisien. If the Socialists win next spring’s presidential election, said Mr Ayrault, they would introduce a “maximum wage”.  

Could David Beckham become a political football across the Channel?  Is he going to generate still more Franco-British cultural misunderstanding?

The first signs are not good. The photograph of Beckham plastered over the front of L’Equipe yesterday showed him holding up two fingers, one on either side of his nose. If David Beckham does play for PSG from January, he will have to explain to his new team mates the difference between V for victory and a V-sign.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Embedded Linux Engineer - C / C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A well funded smart home compan...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - Python / Node / C / Go

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: *Flexible working in a relaxed ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Bookkeeper

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This accountancy firm have an e...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Developer / Mobile Apps / Java / C# / HTML 5 / JS

£17000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Junior Mobile Application Devel...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?