Soccer: Beckham fan’s lifetime ban lifted
CARSON, Calif. ó The Los Angeles Galaxy fan who jumped onto the field during a testy exchange between David Beckham and the home crowd had his lifetime ban from the stadium rescinded Monday.
The unidentified Galaxy supporter leaped from the Riot Squad fan section onto the field at halftime of Beckham’s return to Los Angeles on July 19 for a match against AC Milan. Beckham made what appeared to be an inciting gesture ó but which might actually have been an invitation for a handshake ó to the booing fans, who resent the superstar’s reluctant return to Los Angeles after playing with AC Milan.
Beckham himself was involved in discussions surrounding the incident and advocated for the ban to be rescinded, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.
Katie Pandolfo, the Home Depot Center’s general manager, said the Galaxy asked the stadium complex’s management to reconsider the ban, noting Beckham shared responsibility for the fan’s actions.
“When David Beckham motioned to the fan to come down to the field to shake his hand, he was unaware of the stadium’s policies regarding fans who enter the field of play,” Pandolfo said in a statement. “Therefore, we have decided to remove the life ban issued to the individual.”
Beckham pointed and shouted at the fans on his way to the locker room, and even appeared ready to jump over the advertising boards before several layers of security blocked Beckham and subdued the fan. Beckham was fined $1,000 by Major League Soccer last Friday.
Beckham agreed to a 5-year contract with the Galaxy in July 2007, but has played irregularly for one of MLS’ least successful clubs. He angered Los Angeles fans earlier this year with his desire to stay in Italy beyond March, when his loan to AC Milan was intended to end.
MLS made a deal to keep Beckham in Italy until the end of the Serie A season, where the level of play likely makes him a better candidate for a spot on England’s national team. Upon his return to California, Beckham dealt with derogatory comments about his leadership by high-scoring teammate Landon Donovan, who was quoted in a book about Beckham’s stint in Los Angeles.
An administrator on the Riot Squad’s Web site has expressed why the section boos the world’s most popular player in a statement posted on its message board.
“We were really torn between our desire to support the team and the need to register our disappointment with the entire Beckham circus,” the administrator wrote. “We don’t fault David for his desire to play for his country and for playing abroad during the offseason, but we do find fault with his stated desire to play in Europe rather than (with) the Galaxy.”
The Galaxy will face FC Barcelona on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl, with more than 70,000 tickets already sold for the friendly. Los Angeles’ next MLS match at the Home Depot Center is Aug. 15 against the Seattle Sounders.