David Beckham's emails will not finish off our Golden Balls – but they're having a bloody good go

This is a cherry-picked scandal for a particular audience: the Graham Norton titbit is little more than a dart at BBC expenditure and the Beckham 'uses the C-word' shock is aimed to horrify strict upholders of 'family values' who might potentially complain to sponsors

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The Independent Online

One will have struggled this weekend to miss the devaluation of Golden Balls™. It’s all been very diverting. Because David Beckham, if reports of his shocking transgressions are to be believed, is a very bad man indeed.

Becks, we are told, says catty things privately in emails. Furthermore, hacked emails dating from 2013 seem to reveal a shocking side to Beckham’s apparent philanthropy. His hundreds of hours helping the sick and starving children are not in dispute, but gird your loins: he hopes his good deeds go noticed. And he’d quite like a knighthood.

Some might argue that doing things for charity and wanting a patted back is not that different from all those over on Facebook gesturing coyly towards their marathon running appeal or soup kitchen stint. No, in Beckham’s case, it’s much worse. The mask has slipped. Off down the dumper for him.

Further evidence of Beckham’s monsterish qualities include him being mean about Katherine Jenkins – the forces’ sweetheart, no less – and also that during a BBC1 Graham Norton Show appearance, a private jet was once booked for him that cost £17,000 to charter.

At this point, you may be waiting for some actual scandal: a killing spree around South Korea and Japan during the 2002 World Cup, say. A secret wife and kids. At least one cat dropped into a wheelie bin.

But of the 18.6m emails and documents hacked from servers of Doyen Global, the firm run by Beckham's PR chief and friend Simon Oliveira, it’s all very clean.

Or, perhaps more accurately, it’s cherry-picked scandal for a particular audience. The Graham Norton titbit is little more than a dart at BBC expenditure. The Beckham “uses the C-word” shock is aimed to horrify strict upholders of “family values” who might potentially complain to his sponsors.

In fact, focusing on a “red flag” against Beckham’s knighthood feels little more than a way to remind the public that Beckham, circa 2011, was involved in the very same sort of now frowned upon tax efficiency schemes as thousands of others. Less focus was placed this weekend, I feel, on the Beckham’s 2015 tax return, which saw them pay £7.9m worth of tax – approximately £152,000 a week. If Beckham was upset by the red flag, he learned from it. 

But while all this is somewhat of a damp squib, it’s incendiary enough to please people in the market place to be angry about something other than President Trump, Brexit and Theresa May’s dealings with both. Let’s be honest: for the whole of January it has been impossible to look anywhere else. Blink and one will miss a catastrophic announcement about a state visit, the dystopian vision of Trump loose on Twitter threatening his judges or an international anti-Trump women’s march (which, interestingly, the Beckhams vocally supported). Some might say this Beckham scandal, dating from 2013 and sat on a shelf for four years awaiting its moment, couldn’t have been more beautifully timed. It was the break in the clouds so many were crying out for.

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And of course, first out of the trap shouting about Beckham being “sickening” and “a fraud” was Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan.

“Knighthoods should go to men like George ‘Johnny’ Johnson”, the last surviving Dambuster, Morgan tweeted to over five million people, knowing his audience all too well.

Cribsheet: Beckham bad; British war heroes good. Beckham is insulting war heroes. Beckham insulting your dead granddad. Everyone pile on. Morgan then went on to call Beckham “grasping”, stirring the hornets’ nest.

“Grasping” is an interesting accusation. Let history record that in 2017 Morgan is doing very, very well out of his grasping of President Trump’s friendship. It’s all great banter, I’m told by squirming TV people. He doesn’t mean half of it. It’s all done for effect. He just loves the attention. It’s funny, really. Trump and Morgan currently share a swivel-eyed love of media exposure, which short-circuits any sense of decency. They’re like Big Brother contestants who know deep down that pissing in the kitchen bin is disgusting, but, in the short term, will also get them three nights on Big Brother’s Bit on The Side. Well: that, but with women in Mississippi dying from coat hanger abortions. 

I keep trying to get worked up over David Beckham being a bit mardy about a knighthood. Or the bit where he demanded a private jet. I just don’t think I’m feeling as angry as I’m supposed to.