David Beckham has arrived in China as an ambassador to help develop young players as the country tries to clean up its football image after a spate of corruption scandals.
He said he was not concerned about match-fixing which has seen several players and officials jailed.
“I’m not here to clean up anything. I’m here to educate the children and give them a chance to become professional footballers,” he said while visiting a Beijing primary school.
Beckham, who was linked with a move to play in the Chinese Super League after leaving Los Angeles Galaxy in December, also said he has not ruled out playing professionally in China.
“Who knows? People keep saying that it will be my last club, it will be my last season,” said the 37-year-old, now with Paris Saint-Germain. “I continue to play and I love playing, so we’ll see.”
Beckham is due to play an exhibition game in China in November, five months after his contract with PSG expires. If he opts to retire by then, the match could mark his swansong before he switches focus to his career off the field.
Developing a youth programme is considered a priority for the CSL, with a mere 8,000 players of all ages registered at local associations in a football-mad nation of 1.3 billion people.
Beckham indicated he would take a strong interest in inspiring and training talented young players who might one day represent their nation internationally.
“I think it’s important that we get a process in hand,” he said.
A weak youth system, along with rampant corruption, has been blamed in part for the Chinese national team’s poor international results. The country has only played once at the World Cup, in 2002.