Beckham lands China job
China has named former England captain David Beckham as its first global soccer ambassador to revive the game’s image after it has been hit by a match-fixing scandal and an exodus of international stalwarts from the premier league. In his new role, Beckham, who joined Paris Saint-Germain in January, is expected to help bring the Chinese Super League to the world stage and promote the game in the world’s most populous country. “I am honored to have been asked to play such an important role at this special time in Chinese football history,” Beckham said in a statement released by IMG. “I’m excited by the prospect of promoting the world’s greatest game to Chinese sports fans, as I’ve seen first-hand the growing interest in football there.” One of the most recognizable players across the globe, 37-year-old Beckham served as a special ambassador for last year’s London Olympics. Chinese officials expect his popularity and influence to restore the game’s credibility in the country. The new season kicks off on Friday.
Goalscorer ordered off
Basel defender Aleksandar Dragovic scored twice, only to be sent off for a provocative goal celebration in their 2-1 win at Servette on Sunday. After heading the winning goal, Dragovic ran along the touchline making an aggressive gesture with his arm, before celebrating with the Basel bench. The Austrian, given a second yellow card after the referee interpreted his behavior as a provocation to the home supporters, was sent off amid chaotic scenes, with his teammates having to restrain him. “I had a bet with our assistant coach: If I scored with my head, I would have to run around the field,” he told reporters. “The gesture was aimed at him, not the Servette fans.” Servette had Omar Kossoko dismissed for throwing the ball down in disgust at a decision and getting a second yellow card. Last year, Dragovic had to apologize for playing a schoolboy prank on a Swiss minister during the medal ceremony at the end of the cup final. He gently slapped the balding politician on the back of the head as he was handing out medals to other Basel players.
Park left out of squad
Spain-based striker Park Chu-young has been left out of South Korea’s 23-man squad for this month’s World Cup qualifier against Qatar, the country’s soccer association said yesterday. RC Celta de Vigo took Park on loan from Arsenal for the season, but the 27-year-old has failed to score since November last year. South Korea, second behind Uzbekistan in Group A, host Qatar on March 26 in the final stage of Asian qualifiers for Brazil 2014. “We build our squad based on our opponents on a game-by-game basis,” head coach Choi Kang-hee was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency. “I think we have plenty of winning combinations in midfield and upfront.”
‘Butcher’ appointed coach
Andoni Goikoetxea, renowned in his playing days as “the Butcher from Bilbao,” has been appointed coach of the Equatorial Guinea national team, the west African country’s soccer association announced on Sunday. Goikoetxea, an uncompromising Basque central defender and Spain international, earned his nickname for a particularly crunching challenge on Diego Maradona which shattered the Argentine’s ankle ligaments in a league game between Barcelona and Goikoetxea’s Athletic Bilbao in 1983.