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Will Beckham move to PSG help burnish Qatari image?

Text by Stéphanie TROUILLARD

Latest update : 2013-02-22

British football star David Beckham’s move to Paris Saint-Germain should help the Qatari-owned club pick a long sought-after title, but the gulf state’s ambitions are likely aimed beyond the pitch.

On Thursday the football world learned that British football star David Beckham would soon call Paris home, with the 37-year-old former Manchester United midfielder signing up to play for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) through the end of the current season.

The move should help the Qatari-owned club in its quest to claim the French championship and sell merchandise, but French observers say it will also deflect attention from allegations of corruption dogging Qatari's successful bid for the 2022 World Cup.

According to Arnaud Hermant, the author of the investigative report “PSG, Qatar and Money”, the announcement that Beckham was joining the League-leading Parisian club was less surprising than its peculiar timing.

“It may be that it was done in response to Qatargate,” Hermant told France 24 in reference to running allegations that Qatar paid off FIFA officials to win the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

The corruption claims began circulating last year, but this week the magazine France Football reported it had new evidence that votes were bought.

“This is a perfect way to restore the country's image. Beckham is one of the world’s most famous players. He is a very likable star who enjoys a very positive image,” Hermant, who has been following the PSG for over a decade, said.

Beckham is expected to help PSG’s chances of clinching the Ligue 1 championship, an honour that has eluded the squad for the past 19 years.

But Beckham will be the French leagues second oldest player, and few doubt his recruitment is as aesthetic as it may be helping the team finish first.

Date created : 2013-02-01

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