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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Soccer Star Beckham Moving to Spanish Team

Aired June 18, 2003 - 19:26   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Think back to when Michael Jordan was in his prime -- not that he's so far out of his prime right now -- and imagine the Bulls trading him to a basketball team in another country. Shocking, correct?
Well, that might give you some idea of how Manchester United fans feel tonight. It's a British soccer team, and it's sending its star player, David Beckham, to a Spanish team, Real Madrid, in exchange for a very large chunk of change.

Mary Snow of CNN financial news is here to talk about the star power of Beckham, known better to many as the husband of Posh Spice -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. We took a look at just who is David Beckham. And from sports columns to tabloids, it is all the buzz.

Soccer star David Beckham leaving his homeland of Great Britain to play for a team in Spain. And while he's starting to gain a lot more attention here in the U.S., he is certainly making headlines around the globe.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): You might not think a soccer star could stir these kind of emotions.

But around the world, fans flock just to get a glimpse of David Beckham and his famous wife, Victoria, better known as Posh Spice of the Spice Girls. Hundreds mob the couple at an airport in Japan, with fans more interested in Beckham's glamour than his goals.

And it's that glamour that led Spain's Real Madrid to pay Manchester United $41 million to transfer the 28-year-old.

MARK MCKAY, CNN WORLDSPORT: This is a high-profile couple. He's a high profile footballer, and this move, which has really shaken up sports not only across Europe but in many places around the world, comes as big news to a lot of people.

SNOW: It may have been big news to a lot of people, but not here in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: David who?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: David Beckham?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait, isn't he, like, married to Posh, like, Posh from the Spice Girls or something?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty hot-looking dude, you know. He's married to Posh.

SNOW: While some compare Beckham's fame to that of Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neale and Sammy Sosa, many Americans are just starting to get to know his name. Thanks to the movie "Bend it Like Beckham," about a young girl who wants to be a soccer star. And soccer is building in popularity in the U.S.

IVAN GAZIOIS, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER FOR MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER: We have kids playing the game, of course. We all know that. We also have a booming immigrant population, which is mainly from countries that are familiar with the game.

SNOW: And familiar with the face of a man who has brought not only great passing skills, but a touch of celebrity to the game.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: And not only is his face bringing a touch of celebrity, but his hairstyles, as well.

David Beckham recently had a publicity tour here in the U.S., and while more people are getting to know who he is, we certainly didn't see the mob scenes at the airport like we did today in Japan.

But soccer officials here say they expect the sport to grow, and Anderson, they say about 20 million participants play the game, and they expect those numbers to increase over the years.

COOPER: It's certainly a huge surprise for a lot of people in Great Britain to hear that this guy -- because he's just huge over there -- spent any time. But it's kind of sad, he and his wife came over here the last couple of weeks sort of hoping to spark something here, become stars in America, and it didn't really work out. They were at the MTV movie awards and they got edited out of the domestic version. They were seen internationally, but I guess MTV programmers decided they weren't even big enough to show here on TV.

SNOW: Yes. Certainly tried to make a name for themselves. But yes, it was a little sad.

COOPER: Maybe in Real Madrid, it will all be different.

Mary Snow, thanks very much.

SNOW: Sure.

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