What Spain thinks of the Beckhams

Most of the Spanish press – including “serious” newspapers such as El Pais, El Mundo ABC etc. have included news items in the past few days about the marriage crisis of David Beckham and his wife Victoria.

It is quite extraodinary that at a moment when so much is happening in Spain and in the World, Beckham’s supposed affairs with women in Madrid can cause so much interest. Or maybe it reflects the need of the media here, and the public in general, to find some light entertainment in a month dominated by terrorism and politics.

Although his photos are constantly published in the gossip magazines in Spain, the last time Beckham hit the headlines to this degree in the respected news press was when he signed for Real Madrid. His arrival was accompanied by much expectation and his presentation to the media was headline news on television, radio and in the papers the next day.

Spain was as much intrigued by Victoria as impressed by Beckham, and it was almost a surprise when it turned out he was a good footballer too. Children and adolescents all over Spain (many Spanish teenagers see him as quite a hearthrob) wear the 23 Beckham Real Madrid football shirts in parks and shopping centers, and although he does not seem to speak any Spanish yet, he has been playing well for his team on the whole (although Real is going through a bit of a crisis at the moment), he smiles a lot when the camaras are near and Spain has warmed to the British player.

Not so to his wife, who Spanish people don’t really understand at all. Spain is a very family-orientated country, and the fact that Victoria has apparantly decided to live in England as much as in Spain, disconcerts many people.

If she was a successful artist in her own right, they would probably be more sympathetic, but as journalists here often point out, she owes much of her fame to her husband (this is more true in countries like Spain where she is less known, than in Britain of course). Initial reports which appeared in the Spanish press, denied by Beckham himself, in which Victoria was quoted as saying Spain smelt of garlic, did not help her cause.

The Spanish press have received the latest news with impartiality on the whole and not a little scepticism. As one of the newspapers here points out today, one of the women with whom he apparantly had an affair with, will appear on Sky One tonight and will receive 775.000 Euros (500.000 pounds) for revealing information for which, presumably, she has already received money from the News of the World, the newspaper which initially published her allegations.

She will probably earn more in Spain too, as the gossip magazines publish their editions this week. And members of her family have already appeared on Spanish chat shows this week.

If these figures are true, perhaps this fact alone should make us examine our reaction to news stories like these. Admittedly it is a relief to turn to “light entertainment” stories, when so much of the news lately is so worrying. But given the poverty, grief and violence dominating current World affairs, how can anyone justify paying, or indeed earning ,nearly a million euros just by sharing personal information which contributes nothing to the public interest and the only thing it will probably achieve is damage to a generally well-liked personality and his family.