No £3m Beckham deal

THE English and South African football associations yesterday launched an investigation into the origin of claims that they had struck a secret £3m deal to ensure David Beckham’s participation in last week’s friendly.

Both sides yesterday angrily denied that any such arrangement had been made following banner headlines in several newspapers yesterday.

Danny Jordaan, the man at the centre of the storm, swiftly dismissed the allegations to confirm the FA’s insistence overnight that there was no truth to the stories.

“The stories in today’s newspapers in England are a complete fabrication,” said Jordaan, the man heading South Africa’s 2010 World Cup bid. “At no time did SAFA agree to make a payment to the FA for David Beckham’s appearance in last Thursday’s match. No such payment was requested and no such payment was made. In fact, discussion regarding the availability of specific players was never raised in talks between SAFA and the FA which took place over several months.

“We are extremely disturbed and angry that such allegations have been made and we challenge the British media to provide us with evidence of such a clause in our contract. It simply does not exist.”

And he added: “I don’t know where that has come from because no one spoke to me. It is very, very unfortunate, for David Beckham, for the Football Association and the South African Football Association.” The suggestion was that by guaranteeing Beckham’s participation, the FA had landed a huge cash windfall from their hosts and television companies. But the FA’s head of media relations Adrian Bevington flatly denied the allegation and promised an investigation.

“The FA is extremely distressed by yesterday’s allegations,” he said. “There has been no ‘secret payment’ for David Beckham’s or any other player’s appearance in South Africa.

“The FA would never name individual players in specific match contracts and it did not do so on this occasion.

The FA, together with Danny Jordaan and SAFA, now intend to investigate the origin and portrayal of this wholly inaccurate and damaging story.”

What started out as a public relations exercise to help kick-start South Africa’s bid to host the 2010 World Cup Finals has developed into something of a morass in the days since the game in Durban. The decision of several members of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s squad not to travel to meet

Nelson Mandela attracted criticism in some quarters, while Beckham’s fractured scaphoid bone left him with a painful reminder of the arduous trip.

However, the FA have consistently expressed their satisfaction with the exercise despite the reservations of several players about the wisdom of undertaking such a tiring journey at the end of a long season and ahead of a crucial qualifying game.

The last thing they needed as they continued their preparations at La Manga in Spain was further controversy, although their bullish dismissal of the latest headlines illustrated once again that they are prepared to fight their corner.

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