The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Star power for the Galaxy or Hollywood?

David Beckham has recently captured headlines because of his $250 million contract with Major League Soccer team the Los Angeles Galaxy, but he has also put soccer and MLS on the front page of almost every major newspaper.

With a huge transition in progress, fans in Los Angeles are curious about how the move will impact soccer and its popularity in the City of Angels.

“I think it’s going to be great for soccer’s success in L.A.,” Keith West, head women’s soccer coach and men’s assistant soccer coach at CSUN said. “It’ll bring more attention to the sport and people will come out to the games.”

West also said “average Joes” will be in the Home Depot Center stands cheering for Beckham, who will create an atmosphere that fans are going to enjoy watching. In turn, this will increase the attention of soccer in L.A. said West, who began coaching CSUN’s women’s soccer team in 2006.

In addition, West said soccer is a huge sport in L.A., with approximately 31,000 youth’s in the San Fernando Valley and neighboring areas playing soccer.

“It’s one of the biggest sports out here, so you never know with young kids,” West said. “When Beckham arrives, instead of going to basketball games, they’ll be going to soccer games. And if that happens, his move will have a huge impact on L.A. soccer.”

In 2003, after retiring his red and white Manchester United jersey, Beckham joined the Spanish sports club Real Madrid. In his fourth season with Real Madrid, Beckham didn’t receive enough game time and on Jan. 11, 2007, his contract with the Galaxy was publicly announced.

Even before signing with the MLS, Beckham already had one foot in the Galaxy’s home field, The Home Depot Center. The 27,000 seat soccer-specific stadium, referred to as the Toolbox by its admirers, was the home of the David Beckham Soccer Academy, a training camp for young players.

According to Beckham in an interview with Eurosport magazine, the academy’s goal was to prolong “the love of the game and provide excellence in pursuit of development” because “up until a certain age, kids love playing soccer.”

For the same reasons, Beckham will once again step on the familiar home field representing the red, white and blue through the Galaxy’s gold and green jersey.

English soccer fan Danielle Shanee finds the move to be a great opportunity for American soccer because it’s a sport that is highly overlooked in the U.S.

“In many countries, soccer is embraced,” said 20-year-old Shanee, a business major at CSUN. “I believe by signing Beckham it will generate awareness of the sport and provide opportunities.”

Shanee feels Beckham and his wife Victoria’s already hyped celebrity status is something that sparks major interest within the audience. Although she agrees Beckham will boost soccer’s popularity in the U.S., she feels the sport still trails behind in popularity compared to other American sports.

“It will probably take a lot more than a big name to get the sport to become advanced in the states,” Shanee said. “If they combine the celebrity status and also do other promotional events to fulfill the wants of the general population, then they could potentially get it to become big.”

Despite several positive responses from the audience, many soccer enthusiasts are disappointed with the transition. However, there is no doubt that L.A. will experience full attendance in its stands by August.

Just last year, 22,000 to 24,000 fans packed the Galaxy home field and in the upcoming months, all 27,000 seats in the stadium are expected to be occupied.

Evidence of such progress weighed in on the day Beckham announced his contract and the Galaxy sold 1,000 tickets in just one day. Even A-list celebrities like Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Rod Stewart, Steven Spielberg and Jennifer Lopez have bought tickets to watch Beckham perform.

With Beckham being a huge fashion icon, a tabloid figure and a marketing giant, it is this mini-Hollywood atmosphere that fans and soccer enthusiasts are concerned about.

CSUN’s men’s assistant soccer coach Yossi Raz feels Beckham’s move is more media-oriented than soccer-focused.

“From a soccer perspective, this move is good,” said Raz, who is in his second season as a member of the CSUN coaching staff. “And don’t get me wrong, I think Beckham is an excellent player, but he’s not coming here to play soccer. He’s coming here to be part of the spotlight and get his wife back in the music scene.”

Raz added that because of the recent World Cup, people have become more and more interested in L.A. soccer. With more youth playing soccer, Raz feels Beckham, if his intentions are purely soccer-oriented, can affect soccer in L.A. by providing advice for the younger generation and giving them tips on how to become a successful soccer player.

Raz also thinks Beckham will open the soccer market to other segments in L.A. as well.

“Families will go out there and buy jerseys,” Raz said. “They will associate soccer with, say, basketball, and just like people wear Kobe Bryant jerseys, people in L.A. will have Galaxy jerseys with his (Beckham’s) name.”

Raz believes people who aren’t even interested in soccer will want to associate with Beckham by watching him play. And although Raz thinks Beckham is moving to L.A. for the media, he believes Bekcham will change soccer in L.A. through attendance, sales and even margin profits of population.

Raz further added that Beckham’s move will be a stepping stone for players in their prime years and finds it great that European players like Beckham and former soccer legends such as Pel?’ and Franz Beckenbauer come to the U.S. to contribute to American sports.

With his Real Madrid contract expiring on June 30, Beckham has already been bombarded with negativity from fans and coaches about coming to L.A. He has been regarded as the newest celebrity who may soon begin to star in movies and have his own reality TV show similar to that of Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey’s Newlyweds and Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro’s ‘Till Death Do Us Part.

“There are people out there and in L.A. who disagree and hate too much,” said West said. “He’s wanted by so many teams because he’s one of the best soccer players.

“No one has the caliber he has at his pace. No one.”

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