Leading article: Not a fair exchange

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Cultural exchange between Britain and the United States has taken weird and wonderful forms over the years. We gave them slavery, they gave us rock 'n' roll; they gave us TS Eliot, we gave them Herman's Hermits.

But few exchanges have been as bizarre as the one we have just observed. A few days ago we promised them David Beckham, a sporting icon to induce sustained national lip-smacking, (with Posh Spice as a bonus). And who do they send over in return? The goalkeeper from Escape to Victory.

Sylvester Stallone is not the first screen idol to sample the delights of the beautiful game, as Pele, another star of Escape to Victory, described it. Raquel Welch once sampled the delights of Craven Cottage, in the unlikely company of Jimmy Hill. But yesterday afternoon, Stallone fetched up at Goodison Park as a guest of the Everton shareholder, Robert Earl, his colleague in the troubled Planet Hollywood chain.

The aim? Presumably to publicise the sixth - or is it the 106th? - film in the Rocky series. Perhaps also to sprinkle a little stardust over the otherwise banal proceedings. For long-suffering Everton fans, though, victory over Reading would have made them far happier than a visit from the Italian stallion.

The truth is that US soccer needs Brand Beckham rather more than English football needs Brand Balboa. Everton may hope to get a mention in Stallone's next film, but once "Rambo" has departed these shores later this week his contribution to our national sport - celeb-spotting - will be over. Beckham's contribution to the cultural life of the US has only just begun.

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