Posted: Wed March 20, 2013 10:28AM; Updated: Wed March 20, 2013 10:27AM

David Beckham arrives in China as soccer ambassador

Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
David Beckham
David Beckham kicks off his China visit at a middle school in Beijing.
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

BEIJING (AP) -- David Beckham arrived in China on Tuesday to help develop young soccer players.

The former England captain said he isn't concerned about the match-fixing scandals in China, where several players and officials were sentenced to prison.

"I'm not here to clean up anything. I'm here to educate the children and give them a chance to become professional footballers,'' said Beckham during his first appearance as ambassador at a Beijing primary school.

Beckham, who left the Los Angeles Galaxy in December, said he hasn't ruled out playing professionally in China one day.

"Who knows? People keep saying that it will be my last club, it will be my last season,'' said the 37-year-old midfielder, now with Paris Saint-Germain. "I continue to play and I love playing, so we'll see.''

Beckham is scheduled to play an exhibition game in China in November, five months after his contract with PSG expires. If he opts to retire, the match could mark the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star's swansong before he switches focus to his career off the field.

Developing a youth program is considered a priority for the CSL, with a mere 8,000 players of all ages registered at local associations in a nation of 1.3 billion people.

Beckham indicated he would take a strong interest in inspiring and training talented young players who might one day represent their nation internationally.

"I think it's important that we get a process in hand,'' he said.

A weak youth system, along with rampant corruption, has been blamed in part for the Chinese national team's poor international results. The country has only played once at the World Cup in 2002.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

SI Videos
Videos from the Web
 
SI.com
Hot Topics: NBA Draft Yasiel Puig NHL Playoffs NBA Playoffs Mark Cuban Jabari Parker
TM & © 2014 Time Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. Terms under which this service is provided to you. Read our privacy guidelines and ad choices.
SI CoverRead All ArticlesBuy Cover Reprint