Beckham can reverse fan backlash with results

BY foxsports • July 22, 2009

Sunday night at the Home Depot Center, home to Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy, vocal portions of the 27,000 sell-out crowd gave David Beckham the kind of reception reserved for pantomime villains instead of global superstars. He didn't like it one bit.

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One section of the crowd, the L.A. Riot squad, was particularly vociferous with its chants, comments and handmade signs that called into question Beckham's loyalty and commitment to the club he signed with in 2007. This was the section that Beckham confronted at the end of the first half.

For a second or two, it looked like the England international was going to reprise Eric Cantona's legendary 1995 leap into the crowd, but cooler heads prevailed on this occasion as security quickly snuffed out an ugly situation.

One has to wonder what provoked Beckham to such a degree. After all, this is a man who suffered legendary abuse at the hands of opposing fans in England's Premier League during his playing days with Manchester United. His effigy has been burned, his wife and children insulted, and yet Beckham always retained his cool on the pitch.

Perhaps as he's entering the twilight of his playing career, the skin that was once inches thick is now thinning and the barbs that used to bounce off him now hit the mark and sting.

The riot squad members I spoke to said that, 1.) They've paid their money and they're entitled to their opinions; 2.) Beckham has let them down; and 3.) It's obvious he doesn't want to be in MLS.

It's hard to argue against the first argument. However, there is a fine line. Good-natured banter and booing is part and parcel of being a professional sportsman. As Beckham noted, "A lot of people predicted the vicious kind of reaction that would be here (at the HDC) and they were right. But at the end of the day it didn't affect me as a player." What did affect him, though, were the personal insults: "One of the guys was saying things that really weren't very nice. It was stepping over the line."

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