David Beckham says he enjoys watching rugby more than football, the sport that made him a global icon.
The former Manchester United and England star, who has gone on a global football tour for charity Unicef and filmed his journey for the BBC, says that he enjoyed watching the Rugby World Cup at Twickenham more than the “nastiness” of football matches.
“I love rugby – I love watching it and I love the whole thing. I have enjoyed going to Twickenham more than I have enjoyed watching football,” he told the Radio Times Christmas issue.
He explained the reason he enjoyed the sport was down to the atmosphere at the games, with “people sitting together with no nastiness.” Beckham said he used to feel “uneasy” going to watch Tottenham Hotspur play United as a child, but added that football had a power that rugby union lacks.
“Football is so powerful,” he said, and the passion comes “because it matters so much to people.”
David Beckham with England rugby union star Jonny Wilkinson in 2003
The ex-England captain explained in an interview with Radio 4’s Justin Webb for the Radio Times Christmas issue how he was “relieved” when his son Brooklyn told him he didn’t want to play football any more.
Beckham was speaking ahead of a new BBC1 documentary, David Beckham: For the Love of The Game, set to air at 9pm on Tuesday 29th December. The documentary will aim to show the power football has to change children’s lives for the better, as Beckham attempts to play seven football matches in seven different continents, from the Antarctic to the mountains of Nepal.
The journey ended in Old Trafford last month, with a World XI charity match in aid of Unicef.
Beckham with children from Kumnga village in Papua New Guinea for BBC1 documentary For The Love of The Game
However, even though the Unicef ambassador is keen to promote the good that football can achieve around the world, he is concerned that football’s governing body Fifa is damaging the sport’s power to change.
“It’s such a mess that it’s going to take a while to sort out. For me to see the game, the way it’s been treated and looked after, is devastating. It’s disgusting.”
Read the full interview with David Beckham in the legendary Radio Times Christmas issue, available from Saturday 5th December and nationwide from Wednesday 9th December. You can also download the issue from the Apple Newsstand.