David Beckham is many things to Major League Soccer – ambassador, future club owner, biggest star, figurehead and highest-paid player. He is also increasingly becoming an embarrassment.
Beckham appears to think his superstar status should give him preferential treatment, given his reaction to his first MLS red card on Saturday, when the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder was banished from the field after a foolish studs-up challenge on the Seattle Sounders' Peter Vagenas.
Instead of accepting responsibility for his actions, Beckham once again resorted to his tired old line of blaming the game officials, in this case referee Ricardo Salazar.
While no one can argue that MLS officiating is generally poor, Beckham's reckless tackle would have earned him his marching orders in England, Italy or any other league. His demented lunge, with his foot raised nowhere near the ball, could have caused Vagenas severe damage and had no place on a professional soccer field.
Beckham's anger is commonplace these days. Even though he has performed well for an improving Galaxy team since returning to the United States last month, he clearly doesn't want to be in America and is hankering for a switch back to the Italian Serie A with AC Milan.
That ire has manifested itself in arguments with supporters, and that did little more than provide comedic value at the expense of the England star. However, actions like those witnessed on Saturday must not be tolerated.
Even if Beckham has no respect for MLS, he needs to respect the sport that has brought him fame and fortune.
Weekend First XI
1. Get him an Advil
Rafa Benitez. The Liverpool manager had a frustrating summer in the transfer market and things didn't get any better in the Reds' English Premier League season opener – a 2-1 loss at Tottenham in which he spent most of the afternoon screaming at everyone from his players to the referee. Benitez knows there is serious work to be done if his team is to stand any chance of competing for the title.
2. Get him a beer
Sepp Blatter. The FIFA president has earned his fair share of criticism in this column but maybe it is time to give him a break. Blatter's recommendation to organizers of the 2010 World Cup that 120,000 tickets be given away to South Africa's poor will help ensure this is a tournament for the people, not just the wealthy elite.
3. Get him some earplugs
Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool midfielder can bank on the taunts and jeers of away crowds every time he plays this season, despite his not guilty verdict following a nightclub fracas.
4. Keep an eye on …
Alexandre Pato. According to newspaper reports, Chelsea is lining up a $75 million bid for the Brazilian teenager – and will then loan him back to Milan for 12 months.
5. Catch a flight to …
London. The English capital hosts a couple of cracking derbies next Sunday. In the east end of the city, West Ham plays host to former boss Harry Redknapp and Tottenham, while in the west end, Chelsea travels to local rival Fulham looking to start its season with a second straight win.
6. Useless and completely made up statistic of the week
Two. The number of new Bentleys Joleon Lescott will be able to buy with the pay increase if he leaves Everton and joins Manchester City – every week.
7. Farewell, for now
Lionel Messi has been given permission to miss Barcelona's season opener in order to focus on Argentina's critical World Cup qualifier against Brazil. It's a smart move by the Barcelona hierarchy, who appreciate the value of keeping the most important player to the club's future happy.
8. Get ready to say hello to …
Fabio Carleandro da Silva. The Brazilian defensive midfielder, formerly of Red Star Belgrade, looks set to join the San Jose Earthquakes of MLS.
9. Get ready to say goodbye to …
Jozy Altidore. But not just yet. Altidore had hoped to take part in Hull City's first game of the EPL season last Saturday. Instead, he was stuck in the United States after a work permit discrepancy. The problem should be resolved by midweek.
10. Get excited about …
Only two weeks to go until the start of the Spanish league, where European champion Barcelona and mega-spending Real Madrid look set for a titanic battle.
11. Why it's good to be a soccer player
Take a look at Kira Eggers, girlfriend of former Real Madrid midfielder Thomas Gravesen.
- David Beckham
- Peter Vagenas
- Major League Soccer