Beckham back in NZ to a cooler welcome
David Beckham arrived in New Zealand on Wednesday for a second round of football diplomacy, receiving a welcome which was rousing if more muted than on his inaugural visit a year ago.
Beckham’s Los Angeles Galaxy club team will play an Oceania selection in a friendly in Auckland on Saturday.
He touched down in New Zealand at 530am (330am AEDT) looking travel weary, standing quietly among teammates as a group of indigenous Maori performed a traditional welcoming ceremony.
Beckham and the Galaxy played in New Zealand last December, drawing a crowd of more than 32,000 to their match against the Wellington Phoenix A-League side in Wellington.
The hype surrounding that visit drew more than 15,000 fans to watch a Galaxy training session, and Beckham’s every move and utterance was reported in detail by local media, or by fans in internet chatrooms.
Beckham mania reached such a pitch that one fan offered the remnants of a meal consumed by the football superstar – including a single french fry – on an auction Web site and attracted enthusiastic bidders.
Anticipation of Beckham’s second visit has been more subdued and ticket sales for Saturday’s match have been sluggish. Local media recently reported around 15,000 tickets were sold at a stadium which holds 32,000. Organisers said ticket sales were expected to gain pace in coming days.
The Oceania team will include former Manchester United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich and former France international Christian Karembeu.© AAP 2013