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Aug, 7, 2007

Garber welcomes Beckham boost, despite injury

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber is as frustrated as the fans that David Beckham is not playing but even sitting on the Los Angeles Galaxy bench, the England star is boosting the sport in North America.

Garber was in Toronto on Sunday as Beckham was once again unavailable because of an ankle injury, the fourth game he has missed since a brief debut in a friendly against Chelsea on July 21.

The commissioner, though, called for fans to be patient.

'This is a five-year deal and while we're all frustrated, I know David is the most frustrated,' Garber said.

'But people will forget about him missing these few games when he hits the field and starts playing for the LA Galaxy.'

The Beckham effect, he said, was already having a huge impact for American soccer, at home and abroad.

'There's certainly more interest in our league. Our games are being broadcast in countries throughout the world, our jerseys are being sold throughout the United States and the world,' he said.

'A lot of that has to do with David but it's pulling the rest of the league up, not just the LA Galaxy and David Beckham. Television ratings are going up and our merchandise sales are going up and there's more interest from fans. That's all very positive.

'Merchandise sales are up 300% league-wide but in terms of the LA Galaxy they're up 700%. That's not what we expected but the Beckham jersey is the number one selling item in (American sports retailer) Sports Authority in the United States - not a basketball, not a football, a Beckham jersey and that's pretty good.'

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