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Being perhaps the greatest soccer player ever, Pele has the right to speak his mind on all matters pertaining to the beautiful game. However, that doesn’t always make his opinions correct.

Take for instance his latest veiled shots at David Beckham and Major League Soccer. Pele says that U.S. fans were misled about Beckham after his record signing from Real Madrid was announced. Pele says Beckham was announced as a “scorer of goals.”

Frankly that statement is absurd.

I read almost everything I could find on Beckham’s signing, then his arrival and followed the few games he played in. Not once did I ever come across a snippet of information declaring he was a great scorer. No one believed that. The columnists and announcers all made that perfectly clear any time Beckham was discussed.

In fact I’d say Pele is 180 degrees off. After Beckham’s mega-deal was announced it had to be emphasized that what he was bringing to America were not goals and fancy moves. He was bringing his brand to build the sport and make a lot of money for himself. The fact that he was not a goal scorer was stressed so the U.S. public who are not hard-core soccer fans did not think they were getting the next Pele, or for that matter Giorgio Chinaglia.

The disappointment following Beckham’s first season in MLS does not stem from the goals he didn’t bring. It is because he was injured for most of the time he was here and he only flashed moments of his brilliance. Beckham signed a five-year contract. He was never going to convert America overnight. His arrival generated enough publicity and buzz to make MLS relevant during the summer doldrums. Now he has to show what he can do (mainly set up goals, work hard, make his team better and provide the occasional brilliant free-kick).

No one was misled. The hype just couldn’t be capitalized on.

Beckham’s not a scorer of goals? Geez, Pele. Is the pope catholic?


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