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Jun 20, 2013

Beckham China visit causes stampede

A public appearance by David Beckham in China prompted a stampede from fans which left seven people injured, including five security personnel.

Three police officers, two security guards and two students were hurt in a surge among the 1,000-strong crowd when the former England captain visited Shanghai Tongji University in his capacity as an ambassador for Chinese football, local police confirmed.

The clamour to get close to the global sporting icon led to a police cordon being stormed, while video footage and photos show people being crushed, pushed to the ground and one uniformed woman being carried away with her face covered in blood.

Beckham was attending to visit the university's football team, and one of the players described the scenes as "too crazy".

"We didn't expect so many people showing up here," Chu Dan told the Associated Press. "Too many fans of Beckham."

In an earlier part of his visit to Shanghai, Beckham insisted the nation's reputation for corruption in the sport is a thing of the past.

Since the turn of year, Shanghai Shenhua have been docked points and stripped of their 2003 Chinese Super League title for match-fixing and two high-level administrators have been handed lifetime bans for accepting bribes.

However, Beckham believes the professional game in the world's most populous country is looking forward to a cleaner future.

"When I first came on as ambassador of the Super League, I was well aware of what has happened in the past, and people question why I wanted to be involved in something that in the past had a bad name or corruption involved," he said. "For me, the past is the past, this is the future."

The Chinese Super League's deputy general, Zhu He Yuan, backed up Beckham's claim that corruption is being rooted out of the sport, and believes appointing the recently retired midfielder in March has already reaped rewards.

"Obviously everyone pays attention to Chinese football, we know that it is going through a rough time, but we are working very, very hard," Zhu said. "We invited David Beckham to inspire kids to participate in the game and to inspire more people to watch the game and from his last two trips we have achieved this goal."

Beckham's week-long tour will continue with a visit to Hangzhou.

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