PARIS Feb 1 The mayor of Paris hailed on Friday
the signing of former England captain David Beckham for Paris St
Germain as a boon for the French capital, adding to tourist
attractions such as the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame cathedral.
"It is very good news which only adds to the image of Paris
in the world ... he is a great sporting personality with an
international audience," Bertrand Delanoe told Europe 1 radio of
the 37-year-old's move to join PSG on a five-month contract.
"It's great for this city which is already the top tourist
destination in the world and where 10 percent of jobs are in the
tourist industry," he added.
Delanoe praised Beckham's decision to donate his PSG salary
to local children charities and said the former Manchester
United and Real Madrid midfielder would be a positive role model
to youth in the poor, racially mixed suburbs of Paris.
"Football is a great working class sport - it is not a game
for snobs, it is for the whole population and particularly the
kids in the suburbs," the veteran Socialist said.
Other French media commentators have been more reserved
about Beckham's arrival, questioning whether he was still fit
enough after his two-decade career and seeing the move as
marketing coup to cash in on his image.
Beckham shirts were already retailing for 100 euros each on
the PSG website, with analysts estimating the merchandising
value of the shirts alone will pull in 17 million euros.
Since taking over PSG less than two years ago, Qatar
investors have spent over 200 million euros ($271 million) on
transfers, signing Swede striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Argentine
internationals Javier Pastore and Ezequiel Lavezzi as well as
Brazil centre backs Thiago Silva and Alex.
Delanoe said he had no problems with the way PSG was drawing
in foreign talent in its bid to become a top-flight European
side, adding that the Qatari investors were "loyal to the values
of Paris and the values of sport".
(Reporting by John Irish; writing by Mark John)