David Beckham continued his tour of China in his role of “global ambassador” for the country’s youth football and Super League in Qingdao insisting he was not there to help clean up the sport in the country.
After arriving flanked by suited officials, the former England captain signed autographs and had a brief kickabout – still wearing his shirt, tie and shiny formal shoes – with students at Qingdao Jonoon football club in a brief appearance attended by a large crowd of fans.
Beckham’s appointment to raise the profile of the game in the world’s most populous country has been met with scepticism as Chinese football is wracked with inept bureaucracy and corruption. Last month 12 clubs and 58 players, officials and referees were punished by the China Football Association for match-fixing and bribery involving incidents stretching back a decade.
But the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder sidestepped any political footballs, instead preferring to concentrate on the actual spherical object. “I’m not a politician, and I’m not involved in any scandals and corruption that’s gone on in the past,” he said. “I’m here for the future.
“I am helping in the education for young kids and young aspiring footballers. It’s as simple as that. I am not here to clear up anything. I am here to educate the children and give them a chance of becoming professional footballers.”