Football superstar David Beckham has been named an ambassador for the Chinese Super League, the country's football association said, a move that has been widely anticipated but also criticized.
The former England captain will visit three times during the season from March to November to promote the sport in China and attract the global spotlight, the China Football Association said in a statement. State media, however, cast doubt on whether Beckham, currently with French club Paris Saint-Germain, could repair the image of a sport scarred by match-fixing and bribery scandals.
A three-year inquiry resulted last month in 33 people receiving lifetime bans and the former club of Didier Drogba, Shanghai Shenhua, being stripped of its 2003 league title.
The arrival last year of the Ivory Coast striker along with Nicolas Anelka, his former team-mate at English Premier League side Chelsea, signalled to some observers that Chinese football had turned a corner. But both players have since left Shenhua, with Drogba going to Turkish league leaders Galatasaray in disputed circumstances and Anelka signing for Juventus on loan.
When news of Beckham's appointment began to circulate last month, the People's Daily online said the departure of two international stars had already hurt CSL's reputation and "even Beckham would not heal the damage".(AFP)