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Real escape with hope of progress

What the papers say
By ESPN Staff

World Cup chiefs plan David Beckham record tribute

World Cup organisers are in discussions with David Beckham's representatives over the possibility of a ceremony if he breaks the record for England caps during the tournament in South Africa.

Beckham is 11 appearances away from Peter Shilton's 125 and could match him if England progress to the latter stages in South Africa next summer.

Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 organising committee, has previously spoken of involving Nelson Mandela in a ceremony if Beckham equals the record.

"We met with the agent of Beckham and will continue that discussion with him and have further engagements,'' said Jordaan, speaking at the Leaders In Football summit at Stamford Bridge.

Beckham has met Mandela before when England played a friendly in South Africa, although the former South Africa president's request to meet Victoria Beckham may not happen next year if boss Fabio Capello does not invite the WAGs.

"We look forward to having Beckham in South Africa,'' Jordaan added. "He was there in 2003 and met Nelson Mandela. Mandela told him 'next time bring your wife along' but Mandela must speak to Capello about that.''

Jordaan expects Beckham to have a role at the tournament, even if he is not in Capello's final squad. "He is a personality and whether he is in or out of the squad he will still be a huge figure in our country,'' he added. "Pele is a long time out of the Brazil squad but is still a huge figure in world football.''

Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Beckham is expected to go on loan to AC Milan in January to prepare for the finals. He has a get-out clause in his Galaxy contract at the end of the year but Major League Soccer CEO Don Garber hopes he will stay.

"He has the right to opt out of his contract at the end of this year,'' said Garber. "I would love David to stay and believe he has been a valuable contributor to MLS. I hope players, David and others, who have options decide to stay.

"It's great that he is back in the England squad. Before he came to MLS he wasn't in the team and now he is, hopefully we helped that process for him.''

Beckham has clashed with fans during matches while playing for Galaxy, but Garber added: "It has been overwhelmingly positive. Sometimes controversy isn't the worst thing. David is a fiery guy with great passion and competitiveness. He has really has helped raise our profile in a way other athletes could not have.''


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