Oh! F**k, is he going to throw a cleat?
According to a NOTW report David Beckham is being primed as the future FA in the aftermath of the England’s failure to land the World Cup. The thinking is that his global brand and charisma will bring back respect to the FA. Maybe all in time for a successful 2030 bid.
Talk about capitulation. When the focus should be clearly on FIFA’s opaque process of awarding the World Cup, its numerous money for votes kickbacks, and its heavy handedness towards national associations. The oldest footballing body in the world is backpedaling faster than a discombobulated Maicon against Gareth Bale (had to get that one out.)
Even as we debate whether the FA is in serious need of R-E-S-P-E-C-T, is David Beckham the right choice? As a global brand isn’t he the product of tabloid gossip? The poster boy of a vicious 24 hour media cycle that informs English morning commuters – which so alarmed Sepp Blatter’s shrinking violets into giving their bid a measly two votes in the first round.
The thinking is that icons like Franz Beckenbauer and Michel Platini have enhanced their country’s international stature but here is a claim these fine gentleman can never make. Which of them have graced the confines of form fitting underwear on billboards the size of a football field? And there is the small matter of Beckham’s heedless disregard for his country when he should have kept his cool in those past World Cups. All the FIFA underlings have to do is to run those clips of Diego Simeone and compare and contrast the level headedness that these two players exhibited in their national careers. Yes, bids and policy matters can be decided on such perceptions. Beckham has unwelcome B-A-G-G-A-G-E.
The FA is making a leap of faith that voyeurism has something to do with bringing respect aka the World Cup. Beckenbauer after retirement stepped back from the limelight to manage amongst a coterie, the fortunes of the foremost Bundesliga club, and by extension the national squad.
Platini was part of a cerebral French midfield that boasted Alain Giresse, Jean Rodriguez, and Jean Tigana. As UEFA president, the same clinical thinking is evident in framing future structural reforms desperately needed to tamp down on the rampant spending of Man City and Real Madrid that is making the game unsustainable. Platini’s activism has forced the powerful English Premier League to blink first. These players have had an outsized influence on the game post retirement not only as articulate visionaries but equally importantly as arm twisters who understand what it takes to win the ground game.
The problem with Beckham is his willingness to be a commodity. He wants to preserve his playing career indefinitely while everyone of his peers wind down for their embalming. As consolation for an ankle injury ruling him out, he was made part time cipher for the English team in the World Cup. Capello seemed to have lost much more in translation because clearly it was not unfamiliarity with Italian that was England’s problem. And this summer, he was the visible face of England’s failed bid for the World Cup. But in all of this did anyone bother to ask Beckham whether the FA or the game needs reform? Has he shown an appetite for policy or horse trading? Does he envision himself as a future football administrator?
The FA should look towards reform minded individuals who have associated themselves with the game as policy makers and have the diplomatic skills to assuage thin skinned voters. It does not have to be a professional player. Andy Burnham? Maybe we can induce the former secretary to take on the cudgels for the job.