Beckham the philanthropist?

Max Eshraghi discusses whether David Beckham’s charitable gestures are in fact for personal gain

In a move that grabbed headlines across the world on a busy transfer deadline day, Beckham chose his final club. Snubbing English teams in an exciting but unsurprising move the 37 year old former England captain will settle this year at French Ligue 1 side Paris St-Germain.

Rumours had been swirling for months about such a transfer. Reports that Victoria Beckham was searching for apartments in France were early indicators. Whilst PSG’s alleged purchase of 20000 shirts with Beckham’s handsome face plastered over them was also a dead giveaway.

But perhaps the bigger news story was the publicity-friendly rejection of his fee, which became a £1 million donation to a Paris Children’s charity. Claims have been made that this was a tactical decision, not only as a favourable PR stunt, but because Beckham could avoid a huge tax break. Whether this philanthropic  gesture is a genuinely well-intentioned move by the typically charitable Beckhams or just a cynical publicity stunt is up for debate. If it’s the latter, well it worked a treat.

The arrival of what some French Papers have dubbed ‘the Spice Boy’ will shine an even brighter spotlight on the already lucrative Ligue 1 team. Undoubtedly, wherever he moved, the media would have flocked. PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti was just lucky enough to grab the £160 million football star. Well, he was Beckham’s manager at AC Milan for a brief loan spell so maybe luck had nothing to do with it.

“I was lucky to work with Carlo and Leonardo [director of football] for a few months,” Beckham said.

[Ibrahimovic] is one of the players I’m excited to play alongside. Ibra was someone I’ve watched for many years, in my early days playing for England against Sweden, and I always felt he could be one of the best players in the world.

“I watched a lot of games last year and a lot of games this season. There’s a lot of talent in this team.”

Ancellotti echoed his praise. “He’s 37 but still has the motivation and the physical condition…He’s one of the most serious and professional players I’ve ever known.”

But if anyone believes this move is purely for footballing reasons they must not have considered the motives of PSG’s Qatari owners. The Qatari’s are businessmen first and foremost and like the rest of the world they know the value of ‘brand Beckham’. A 62% rise in Real Madrid’s shirt sales when Beckham signed for them in 2003 would not have gone unnoticed.

PSG is a club with a growing profile and surely it can’t hurt to have the world’s most famous footballer on their side. On the pitch, it is expected Beckham will bring leadership and experience, giving a boost to a team already at the top of their game. Although whether he will be a greater benefit on or off the pitch remains to be seen.

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