David Beckham should brace himself for a hostile reaction from some fans when he returns to action in Major League Soccer this month, the top man in the American game has warned.
Sunil Gulati, president of the US Soccer Federation, said some negative response was "inevitable" after Beckham missed the start of the season to play at AC Milan.
Beckham is due to make his return for the Los Angeles Galaxy at the New York Red Bulls on July 16, but his 'timeshare' deal with Milan has upset some fans.
Gulati told Bloomberg: "I'm sure there will be some negative reaction from some fans.
"That's inevitable, but in the end he's a good player, a soccer icon and I think he'll help his team and the league. But are there going to be some people that are upset? Sure."
Beckham's absence may have contributed to a drop in attendances at the Galaxy - they are averaging just over 19,000 fans per home game so far this season without Beckham, about 7,000 fewer than last year.
Under the 'timeshare' agreement, Beckham will return to the Galaxy from July to October and then be able to rejoin AC Milan for the rest of next season.
Beckham could also move to another club permanently by exercising an escape clause in his Galaxy contract in November, halfway through the term, but he would have to pay compensation to the club.Reuse content