Beckham to be whisked in and out - with media and the fans kept at bay


By ERIC SAMUEL

PETALING JAYA: English footballer David Beckham's promotional visit to Malaysia will last only 150 minutes – and fans of the former Manchester United can forget about seeing much of the football celebrity. 

He will be flown in sometime on Tuesday afternoon – the organisers are not revealing the time – attend the promotional event for 2½ hours and be whisked away. No details of his departure have been made known but he is to make a public appearance in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam at 9.30am the next day. 

The organisers have also slapped a gag on foreign and local media. The media have been told that the player would not entertain any questions on his recent transfer to Real Madrid, his salary or even his wife Victoria's career. 

A list of “banned” questions were sent to media offices yesterday. Among them are questions on his relationships with other Manchester United personnel, his contract with Real or his sponsorship deals.  

During the 2½-hour programme, Beckham is scheduled to demonstrate his football skills at the indoor stadium and play in a friendly game with local football personalities. He will watch the final of a five-a-side tournament and the champion team will receive the trophy from Beckham. The Castrol Consumer Contest winners will also be selected to meet him. 

KID-DING AROUND: Japanese children mill around David Beckham during the visit to a Japanese elementary school in downtown Tokyo. Malaysians will have no such luck as no public appearances are scheduled for the player besides the official event on Tuesday.--EPApic.

“Some of our customers and consumers will get a chance to meet Beckham and thousands more will get to see him play. This is our way of extending the benefits of his visit a bit further into the community,'' said Castrol Asia Pacific director of marketing, Ramchander. 

“Due to the sensitivities regarding Beckham, there are limitations on the nature of the questions that can be asked,” a statement from the organisers read. 

The Beckham tour of Asia is fast turning into a huge exercise in secrecy as the organisers are doing their utmost to keep the Castrol show from becoming a Beckham show. 

In Vietnam, the organisers are refusing to reveal the time that the private plane carrying Beckham and Victoria, will land in Ho Chi Minh City's airport, a publicist said. 

“They want to keep it secret to avoid huge crowds of Beckham's fans from gathering at the airport,” said Duu Cam, an employee of T&A Communications, which is handling publicity for the trip. 

About 15,000 fans lucky enough to get tickets for the exhibition football match Beckham will be attending, will be able to view him from the stands. Tickets went on sale this week and were nearly sold out by Friday. 

In Malaysia, all proceeds from the visit will go to the Monfort Boys Town while in Vietnam, the US$30,000 raised by ticket sales will go to local charities. 

However, organisers have decided not to let him meet fans who don't pay.  

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