Beckham to promote football in China: will he keep the fee?
PSG player will be paid millions in new role as football 'ambassador' for troubled Chinese FA
AS IF David Beckham has not got enough on his plate what with learning French, the former England captain may also have to take Mandarin classes after becoming China's first global soccer ambassador.
The curious appointment will see the veteran midfielder attend league matches in China and visit clubs in the country to promote the game to children, while at the same time playing for Paris Saint-Germain in the French league.
The 37-year-old seemed undaunted by the challenge and declared that he was "honoured to have been asked to play such an important role at this special time in Chinese football history".
The Chinese Football Association [CFA] said it hoped that Beckham would "attract global attention to Chinese football and the CSL [Chinese Super League]".
The appointment comes on the eve of the 10th CSL season and 20 years after the game turned professional in China. However, things have not gone smoothly for the sport in recent times.
Former Chelsea stars Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka were lured to the country but failed to make an impression. Both players are now back in Europe.
Last month the country's top referee, who took charge of a game at the 2002 World Cup, was jailed for five-and-a-half years for taking bribes to fix matches. He was one of nine people convicted after a widespread corruption probe.
The CFA also handed out 33 lifetime bans and 25 five-year bans to other players and officials caught up in the scandal.
"With the rot so widespread in Chinese football, little wonder the CFA opted for an outsider – someone with clean hands (and feet) – as its ambassador," said the Financial Times.
"Chinese officials expect his popularity and influence to restore the game's credibility in their country," reported the Daily Mail.
However, there are questions over how much Beckham, who is donating his salary from PSG to charity, will be paid in his new job.
Italian sports paper Gazzetta Dello Sport claims the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star could be paid as much as £50m over five years for promoting Chinese football.
That claim has been angrily denied in the Chinese media. A CSL spokesman told the People's Daily newspaper that the fee was around £1.7m and would be paid by a "partner company of the International Management Group".
Whatever the fee, it is not yet clear whether Beckham will keep the money or donate that too.