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David Beckham to help boost image of Chinese soccer

Beckham will play in a team against China's best players in November

AP, Tuesday 5 Mar 2013
David Beckham
David Beckham (Photo: Reuters)

David Beckham will play in an all-star game in China this year as part of a deal to help raise soccer's profile in the world's most populous country.

The former England captain has signed up to help boost soccer's appeal in China, which is trying to clean up its image by clamping down on corruption following a series of match-fixing scandals.

''I'm excited by the prospect of promoting the world's greatest game to Chinese sports fans as I've seen firsthand the growing interest in football there,'' Beckham said. ''This is a wonderful sport that inspires people across the world and brings families together, so I'm relishing the opportunity of introducing more fans to the game.''

Fans in China should get a chance to see Beckham play in a team against China's best players in November, five months after his current contract with PSG expires. If a new PSG deal is agreed beyond the end of this season, the midfielder will ask for permission to make the trip.

If Beckham has retired by then, the match could offer the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star a chance to bid farewell to the sport before focusing on his career off the field.

''It really underlines the scale and reach of his global popularity,'' said Simon Fuller, Beckham's business partner. ''This is the start of a new chapter in the David Beckham story.''

China has played once at the World Cup, in 2002.

''Beckham's own story and his love of the game will inspire a new generation of children to play football in China so Chinese football will take its place on the world stage,'' said Adam Zhu from IMG, which helped to broker the deal.

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