China Recruits David Beckham for Soccer Awareness Mission

David Beckham L.A. Galaxy - P 2012
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David Beckham L.A. Galaxy - P 2012

The Chinese Football Association invites the former England captain to help promote the game at the grass-roots level as the first-ever global ambassador.

LONDON -- David Beckham will be the first global ambassador for Chinese soccer, following an invitation from the Chinese Football Association.

Beckham, a former L.A. Galaxy star, England international pick and currently a Paris Saint-Germain player, will visit China in 2013 to promote Chinese soccer domestically and globally.

It is the first time an international sportsman has been honored in such away.

Beckham’s new gig follows his special ambassadorship for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Beckham said he was "honored to have been asked to play such an important role at this special time in Chinese football history."

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The Chinese soccer league has recently been hit by a max-fixing scandal and high-profile ex-Chelsea striker Didier Drogba recently left the country after just seven months into his 21/2 year contract with Shanghai Shenhua.

Added Beckham: "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. 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."

CFA, the governing body of the game in China, hopes to promote soccer to more than 1.3 billion people in the country.

"2013 marks the 20th anniversary of professional football in China and the special ambassadorship of David Beckham will attract global attention to Chinese football and the CSL," said a CFA official spokesman.

The 2013 Season of the Chinese Super League kicks off March 8 and it's hoped that Beckham’s support will bring increased national attention to the county’s Championship League.

Simon Fuller, Beckham’s business partner, said: "With David being invited by the Chinese FA to become an ambassador for the game he loves so much, it really underlines the scale and reach of his global popularity."

Mike Dolan, chairman and CEO of IMG Worldwide, which has a 10-year deal as a strategic partner and promoter of the CFL, said it was "the perfect time for an icon like David Beckham to be spearheading the effort to promote football in China," citing the combination of the 10-year anniversary of the CSL, the 20th anniversary of professional football in China and the global appeal of Beckham.