David Beckham wants to stay in Italy. This is a phrase that maybe a handful of Americans, mostly housewives, immigrants and hardcore sports fans might find interesting. But to you, the average American sports fan, the expected response to this statement is “So what?” Yet this is a story that tops the international sports news wires. This is because Americans don’t generally find professional soccer interesting. But this is an interesting story and Americans should know about it, so allow me to a moment to try to explain it in terms that might interest this country more.
David Beckham is an aging but legendary soccer star. For the sake of this article we are going to compare him to and even call him, Shaquille O’Neal. We are also going to pretend that he is playing basketball instead of soccer.
Now, imagine this:
Two years ago, Shaq was released by the Miami Heat. Instead of looking for a team (like the Suns) to play with, he signed a four year $250 million contract to play with Olympiakos Basketball Club in Greece. He played for a couple of years, made some money, had some fun and lived in comparative anonymity.
Then, a year-and-a-half later, Shaq was “loaned” by Olympiakos to the New York Knicks. With this new opportunity, Shaq found a youthful spring to his step and started to dominate like the Shaq of old. His play results in the Knicks being in the hunt for an NBA championship this year. Shaq is now very happy, but the time is approaching for him to report for duty with Olympiakos and play in Greece again.
To put it bluntly, Shaq doesn’t want to go to Greece, Shaq wants to win a championship with the Knicks and play on the greatest basketball stage on earth. So he asks Olympiakos to let him out of his contract and play with the Knicks. But Olympiakos has already paid Shaq $125 million, and they don’t really want him to leave.
Now, back to reality, swap Olympiakos for the Los Angeles Galaxy and the New York Knicks for AC Milan, and you see why the sports world is watching with bated breath.