PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Beckham signing is a Real PR triumph

MADRID: What could be better than having the world's most celebrated athletes on one roster? Adding English soccer great David Beckham to the lineup.

MADRID: What could be better than having the world's most celebrated athletes on one roster? Adding English soccer great David Beckham to the lineup.

For the next four seasons, Beckham will play alongside living legends Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Ra?l, and Roberto Carlos at the Bernabeu stadium, home to Real Madrid Football Club. The team purchased Beckham from Manchester United (Man U) in a deal worth $41 million. But his true value could be realized off the field. Real Madrid and Man U are the two most popular sports franchises in the world, selling jerseys and official videos to fans in more than 100 countries. But the vast, untapped market, as far as both teams are concerned, is the US. This is the very reason why Man U is playing its summer tour in the US, with preseason matches in four US cities. Each game sold out far in advance, but it's a good bet that the vast majority of ticket holders ponied up at the prospect of seeing Beckham bend a free kick into the top corner of the net. These are, of course, the same people who are likely to spend $80 on a red jersey with Beckham's name and number stitched on the back. So ahead of the long-anticipated US tour, Real Madrid has sucked the wind from Man U's sails in the American market. Of course, it begs the question why Man U sold Beckham in the first place. Maybe its hope is that with $41 million in the bank in a bad market, the team can buy four or five new world-class players. Already, rumor has it that Brazil World Cup winner Ronaldinho is on his way. But in the meantime, Real Madrid has won the hearts, minds, and wallets of fans the world over by signing Beckham. Real has also won the Champions League twice in the past four years, and can now add a PR Play of the Week to its trophy case as well.

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