David Beckham is going to the Olympics.
That's the word according to English tabloid Daily Mail, which reported Thursday that it “can reveal that the Leytonstone-born England icon is included in the Great Britain squad Stuart Pearce will submit to FIFA, ending fevered speculation over his participation.”
Pearce is to submit Friday a shortlist of 35 players to FIFA, and The Telegraph, a British broadsheet, reported that “it is understood that Beckham has not only been included but will survive the cut to become an Olympian.”
Both reports are unsourced, but Beckham, the Galaxy's midfield leader, is considered a strong bet for one of three-overage slots on the 18-man roster for the London Olympics, for which the soccer competition begins July 26, the day before the opening ceremonies.
Beckham, 37, was part of the team that campaigned to bring the Olympics to his hometown and has served in an ambassadorial role since. He left the Galaxy last month to accompany the Olympic flame from Athens to Cornwall, where the torch relay across Britain began.
There has been criticism in Britain that Beckham's inclusion would be solely about his celebrity -- his ability to fill seats and sell souvenirs -- and he bristled about it with the British press while in England last month.
“I have never said it before, but that suggestion has always felt a bit disrespectful,” he said. “Whenever I have been asked about shirt sales or filling stadiums, it has always felt it is a bit disrespectful. Throughout my career, I have been pretty successful, I’ve played for some pretty big teams, represented my country quite a few times, and played for managers without sentiment.
“When you play for Sir Alex Ferguson, Fabio Capello, Sven Goran Eriksson or the [other managers] that I have played under, they don’t pick players because they want to fill a stadium or particularly to sell shirts. I have always found it an honor that people have wanted to buy my shirt and an honor that fans turn up to watch the team I am playing in. I have always found that a huge honor. But no, I don’t want to be picked for shirt sales or as a stadium-filler. I want to be picked for what I can bring to the team.
“That has been the case throughout my career, and I don’t want that to change.”