Football: Beckham in picture controversy

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DAVID BECKHAM was unaware that the pictures used by Time Out magazine displaying the Manchester United midfielder wearing crucifixes and rosary beads would cause offence.

The England international is pictured on the front cover of the magazine with the headline: "The Resurrection of David Beckham".

Beckham's father Ted insists that his son believed the photographs would be used solely for modelling purposes. "To be honest, David was just doing some fashion photos. It was nothing to do with religion," Mr Beckham said. "I think it was done about two months ago and if they have held it deliberately for the Easter issue of the magazine, it is in very poor taste. The last thing David would want to do is cause offence to people.

"David is not that stupid to do something like that. As far as he knows, it was purely for a fashion shoot. I spoke to him the other day and he said he had something coming out and the pictures were brilliant. He hasn't done anything else recently so it must be this picture. He wasn't thinking about anything other than fashion.

"If you look at the clothes, they are just fashionable clothes - not my sort I admit - but for a youngster."

Mr Beckham added: "It was the wrong time to have brought the pictures out. It is just a fashion picture. I don't think anybody thought anything of it, really. I have seen the picture and I suppose it is down to what you read into it. I don't think it is derogatory at all. It is just a picture."

Three Argentinian youngsters are currently training with Manchester United as a result of Sir Bobby Charlton's efforts to promote England's World Cup 2006 bid.

Sir Bobby, the former United and England midfielder, initiated the agreement with President Carlos Menem whilst in Argentina discussing the England campaign. The three youngsters, who joined United on 21 March and will remain with them until this Saturday, are Santiago Kuhl, Claudio Ortiz and Mauro Marchano.