For the Record


David Beckham will join AC Milan during the MLS offseason.
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

David Beckham will be going on loan to AC Milan in January, and if he's as smart as I think he is, he'll stay there.

He'll forget about this MLS nonsense and the unattainable goal of making soccer mainstream in a country with a third-rate professional league competing against first-rate leagues in every other conceivable sport.

He'll disregard the notion that being in Hollywood and hanging out with celebrities will somehow increase his visibility. After all, he was appearing in just as many celebrity magazines and Web sites when he was being photographed in London and Madrid, as opposed to Los Angeles and Miami.

He'll ignore those that say he can still be taken seriously as a soccer player and be a fixture on England's national team while he wallows on a last place MLS team amongst a bunch of scrubs over 5,000 miles away from England.

It's absolute lunacy, and if Beckham and his management team have any sense, they'll put an end to it right now before it's too late.

The Beckham experiment in the United States has already been a mistake, and staying any longer would only be compounding it. reported Friday that Beckham's income from endorsements fell 6.6 percent in 2007 and that his London-based company, Footwork Production Ltd., paid Beckham and his staff $8.4 million, 49 percent less than the previous year. The report also stated that the company's revenue fell to roughly $17 million, down for a third consecutive year.

So if Beckham's move to the U.S. was done in large part to increase his visibility and grow his brand off-the-field in North America, I would think it's safe to say that it's been a colossal failure up to this point. If that's the case now, almost two years into this five-year deal, does anyone really believe it will get any better? If anything, like the buzz generated from a new television show boosts initial ratings, these numbers are probably only going to get worse as long as Beckham is playing in a country that hardly watches him on the field and scarcely cares about his exploits off it.

Besides beginning to lose his core base of fans in Europe by playing thousands of miles away in the MLS, Beckham is also losing credibility as a soccer player by playing for the worst team in a league, a team that wasn't thought of highly to begin with. If Beckham wants to play for England at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, which he does, and wants to be considered one of the best soccer players in the world, which he does, he needs to get out of the MLS immediately.

No one can fault Beckham for taking a big-money deal and trying to make soccer relevant in the U.S., as many former greats such as Pele, George Best and Johan Cruyff once did. But now that he's discovered, like they did, that it's impossible, no one can blame him for going back to Europe and doing what's best for his career, not only on the field, but off it as well.


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