Brand Beckham meets Brand Qatar

[WORLD VIEW] His representatives have denied the media reports, but by all accounts, David Beckham is headed to Paris St. Germain, where he will be paid a salary double what he made with the Los Angeles Galaxy. At 36 and with a recent history of injuries, Beckham's value to PSG is debatable. But as the French great Michel Platini, now president of UEFA, famously said, if Beckham is coming to Paris, it isn't to play soccer.

Beckham is part of a game of geopolitics that involves France and Qatar at the highest levels.

Qatar is scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup and needs to legitimize its place as a player on the international soccer scene.

Just as they bought the World Cup, the Qatari royals have set out to buy everything that is big and beautiful in the world of soccer.

For the first time ever, Barcelona -- the best team in the world by a mile -- has agreed to accept money to give someone the right to put its name on the front of its jersey. That someone is something called the Qatar Foundation, operated by the Qatar government, and the amount is $230 million over five years.

The inside connection: Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, whose sports marketing agency, Bonus Sports Marketing, helped establish the Aspire Football Dreams program that is believed to have done much of Qatar's grassroots bidding on its World Cup 2022 campaign.

In the case of Paris St. Germain, the Qatari crown prince, Sheik Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, has gone one step further and bought a 70 percent stake in the club through Qatar Sports Investments.

On the television front, Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-owned Arab broadcaster, has moved into France and started buying up soccer rights: French cable rights to Ligue 1 games each Friday and Sunday and most recently the UEFA Champions League and overseas rights to Ligue 1 matches.

Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the chairman of Qatar Sports Investments and the person responsible for running PSG, is also the head of sports at Al-Jazeera.

The Qatari-French link goes to the top of the French government, where President Nicolas Sarkozy has developed close ties to the Qatari royals.

According to the French magazine So Foot, Sarkozy organized a meeting on Nov. 23, 2010 -- nine days before the World Cup 2022 was awarded -- at which were present Platini, Al-Thani and Sebastien Bazin, the European representative of Colony Capital, the American investment firm that owned PSG. The subject: Qatar's possible investment in PSG.

Platini denies his 2022 vote for Qatar -- one of the European votes the USA coveted -- was on orders from Sarkozy, but let's put it this way. He would have had a lot of explaining to do if he returned to Paris and the USA had won.

So why Beckham?

PSG surely doesn't need him on the field. Yes, he enjoyed the best of his five seasons with the Galaxy, helping it win the MLS title, but he was given a very defined role in the middle of midfield to take advantage of what he could do and not do.

But Beckham will struggle in Ligue 1, a league that puts a premium on athleticism. Platini was blunt about the Englishman's move to PSG.

"I love this player but he is not the footballer he was," said Platini. "And if he comes to Paris now, it will be to do something other than football."

Beckham is a natural fit for the Qatar Sports Investments, a player whose worldwide fame far exceeds what he has accomplished on the field in his career.

During the World Cup 2018/22 race that pitted Qatar against England in opposing camps, Beckham was about the only person involved in the English bid effort who came of it with his reputation enhanced.

"David Beckham is bigger than sport," Al-Khelaifi told L'Equipe. "He is an ambassador, a brand, an example for others." Then Al-Khelaifi added, "He is also and still a very good soccer player whose age isn't a problem."

Like Barcelona, Brand Beckham legitimizes Brand Qatar.

9 comments about "Brand Beckham meets Brand Qatar".
  1. Efrahim Fernandez, December 22, 2011 at 9:06 a.m.

    Platini a great player lacks credibility to speak after his shameful involvement in the USA not getting the WC. As far as his comments go he is just another Beckham hater.. Ligue 1 is perhaps the 5/6 Th best league in the world. Beckham and his old legs will do well providing service to the young marginally talented French kids..

  2. zoltan obrusanszki, December 22, 2011 at 11:02 a.m.

    Efrahim, you have made a good point. Platini is just another Beckham hater.
    Bekham is a hard working person, and with all do respect the UK team could also use him very well. Does he make a lot of money? Good for him. Is he a successful person beside running up and down on the field? That is his business, he has four kids to support. For grandpa Platini and the others: Just leave him alone.

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  3. Ryan Zimmer, December 22, 2011 at 11:16 a.m.

    Money can't buy you love.

  4. Mark Grody, December 22, 2011 at 12:32 p.m.

    I love Blatter

  5. davin patterson, December 22, 2011 at 1:24 p.m.

    You guy's are kidding right Beckham has had only one talent his whole career free kicks the guy is pretty much worthless, he has no use in a ligue with talent like the French ligue. Now about the world cup bought or not I'm done listening to Americans complain about how we deserved it , no the USA didn't deserve it, the Qatar plan was a million times better then the USA. Their stadiums were better, distance between stadiums so you can see multiple games in a day , and the transit that's being setup are all better then what the USA had cmon admit when your beat.

  6. David Huff, December 22, 2011 at 3:03 p.m.

    Efrahim, you don't know what you are talking about. Ligue 1 is a good league and has plenty of quality talent plus they play an attractive game that is worth watching, much better than the manic EPL (with the exception of Arsenal).

  7. Andres Yturralde, December 22, 2011 at 3:51 p.m.

    Thanks for connecting the dots, Paul. Reminds of that agent who was trying to trade with Tommy Lasorda... 'No, Tommy, it isn't about the money.' And then, seconds later... 'It is about the money.' But Beckham's got it, so take advantage of it. It ain't braggin' if you've got it.

  8. Efrahim Fernandez, December 23, 2011 at 10:24 a.m.

    Really, how many French players playing outside France in the top leagues and are star players ? Ribery and Cisse and not sure they contribute as much as Dempsey and Bocanegra to their respective teams. Most leave France to go play in bigger leagues.. Zidane and Platini are legends. Then Henry'..
    Not an exhaustive list?

  9. beautiful game, December 23, 2011 at 2:56 p.m.

    Love him or not, Becks still brings quality to the game; the question is whether he can sustain it at 36. Forget about his free kicks, his mantra is that cross field or upfield delivery that 90% of the time is on the button.

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