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American soccer: The Becks effect

Thierry and friend

IF ALL goes to plan, on November 20th David Beckham will lift the Major League Soccer Cup and provide a storybook ending to his American adventure. The English soccer star has yet to deliver much on-field success, but LA Galaxy, the team that he joined on a record-breaking salary (for America) in 2007, has been dominant this year and enters the final as hot favourite. Victory will add to the clamour for him to sign a new deal, but the smart money is on Mr Beckham, 36, playing out what is left of his career back in Europe, perhaps for the Qatari-bankrolled Paris Saint-Germain.When Major League Soccer (MLS) recruited Mr Beckham, it was more interested in what he could do off the field. Unlike any soccer player before him, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder had figured out how to commercialise his fame through a range of endorsements. Aspiring footballers might want to “bend it like Beckham”, but America’s aspiring league wanted to brand it like him. The cost of doing so, some $250m, was spread evenly among the then 14 MLS teams (there are…

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