Is there any better indication of America’s distance from the footballing world than the ongoing coverage of David Beckham’s retirement? Becks has been borderline irrelevant in the world’s popular sport, despite his status as the one of most famous people to ever don a collared jersey.
How did he maintain the visibility? As ESPN writer Iain Macintosh put it, Beckham is “like a male Kardashian or Hilton, people might not have known exactly what he did for a living, but by thunder, they knew what he looked like in his underpants.”
To myself and my countrymen, seeing Becks actually playing the game would be strange, if it ever happened.
And so, for those who mistakenly take the fashion icon and Spice husband’s retirement as the most newsworthy story in the beautiful game here is a brief list of stories that surpass it in importance by leaps and bounds (and kicks, and dives).
The most decorated manager of all time, Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson, has announced that he will hang up his hat at the end of this season. In his 1500 game-, 27-year tenure at Old Trafford, his acquired wins that surpass coaches across any sport, like 13 league titles and 11 manager of the year awards. However, despite the absurd batch of silverware on his mantle, the salty, gum-chewing Scot cannot take top billing over his former midfielder David Beckham in international news despite Beckham’s comparatively paltry résumé of six league titles and smattering of lesser individual awards, like BBC’s football personality of the year award in 2003. Even that is dubious, considering Beckham’s lack of actual personality.
This year, the club champions across all of Europe will be decided when the provincial stars of northwest Germany, Borussia Dortmund, take on the perennial German giants Bayern Munich. This is the first-ever European championship contended by two teams from Germany’s Bundesliga, which, in the eyes of many football fanatics, has always played second fiddle to the English, Spanish, and Italian leagues. Dortmund and Bayern’s swift disposal of their supposedly stronger rivals marks a new era in the hierarchy European Leagues. Is that important enough for you, America?
The very credibility of the world’s game is at stake. A recent, long form article on Grantland delineates the suspicions of gambling across various top leagues. Over 680 matches are considered dubious for their odd game statistics — i.e. a match that had four penalties awarded to one team — or had a sudden, disproportionately large influx of money gambled over its outcome. A Singaporean gambling syndicate led by the well-named Dan Tan is allegedly controlling a racketeering effort that spans dozens of countries over all the major footballing continents.