This past January, professional soccer player David Beckham ended doubts about leaving the MLS after he re-signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy for an additional two years. As the end of Beckham’s ﬁve year contract drew near in the late months of 2011, it was unclear whether he would stay with the American club or move to French club, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Earlier in 2011, PSG made serious attempts to sign Beckham to their squad, promising to more than match any offers by the Galaxy. Although Beckham deferred his decision until after the MLS Cup Championship, he finally announced that he would stay with the Galaxy. This decision marks a renewed commitment to the Galaxy, the MLS, and soccer in America.
Over the course of his career, Beckham has shown the world that he is a die-hard competitor and has exhibited his true love for the game of soccer. When Beckham was just 13, a soccer coach at his youth academy harshly dismissed him as too small and weak. Beckham met these words with a redoubled energy and motivation to prove his coach wrong. Just four short years later, Beckham signed with English world-renowned Manchester United, beginning his illustrious career. He has admirably overcome much adversity in his career to win league titles in three different countries and appear in 115 matches for the English national side to set the all-time outﬁeld player record, ﬁrmly establishing himself as an icon for sports fans all over the world.
In 2007, Beckham shocked the international soccer community as he chose to leave the European stage and sign with American club, the LA Galaxy. This was a monumental change, for a player of Beckham’s caliber to move to such a historically weak league, the MLS. In the past, it has not been uncommon for aging European stars much past their primes to play out their few remaining years in less competitive leagues such as this. This was not the case with Beckham. Although Beckham was an older player at 31, he had just helped superclub Real Madrid clinch the “La Liga” (the premier soccer league in Spain) title. The world’s most famous soccer player had moved to a midlevel team in an adolescent league.
So, why did he do it?
When Beckham signed with the Galaxy, he received a gaudy package deal of a reported $250 million for ﬁve years. Still, his unclear motives did not seem to be ﬁnancial in nature. After all, he was the highest paid soccer player in the world just three years prior. It quickly became apparent that Beckham’s move was motivated by his passion for the game. He saw an opportunity to make an impact on the future of the game in America and took it.
Beckham immediately effected noticeable changes to the sport in America. The year he arrived marked the ﬁrst time in history in which every single regular season match was telecast live. Beckham’s move opened many doors for the Galaxy. The CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group, the owners of the Galaxy, described the change simply, “Suddenly, we’re known as the company that owns the team that David Beckham is going to play for, so our world changed.”
The MLS maintained high hopes that Beckham’s move to the league was not simply an anomaly, and that others would follow in his footsteps. Upon Beckham’s arrival in 2007, the MLS implemented a new rule called the Designated Player Rule, or often referred to as the David Beckham Rule. In short, this rule allowed MLS teams to have two players that were not subjected to the typical salary cap of the league ($335,000). This would allow teams to attract much more talented players to the league. Since Beckham, the league has brought in notable greats including Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane, and Rafael Marquez as designated players.
Over the past ﬁve years, Beckham has played an instrumental role in the Galaxy offense, scoring 12 goals and making 39 assists. His success with the team culminated this past November when he helped lead the team to its ﬁrst MLS Cup Championship in six years. Beckham’s recent decision to stay with the Galaxy evidences his continued investment and loyalty to soccer in America. Although Beckham may not have been the answer to the MLS’s hopes and prayers, he has not tried to be. He came here to compete and win trophies, and has done just that. His impact has been undeniable. Beckham’s contagious passion has elevated the play of his club, the LA Galaxy, as well as that of the rest of the league. Beckham plans to continue his involvement in American soccer after he retires by managing his own MLS team.