Football: Beckham plays down improving China image hopes

BEIJING (AFP) - Football superstar David Beckham played down expectations that he can improve the battered image of the Chinese game as officials on Wednesday unveiled him as the sport's ambassador in the country.

The former England international's new role has been widely seen as an ambitious attempt by the Chinese Super League to recover from years of match-fixing and corruption involving players, referees and officials.

But the 37-year-old, who is on a five-day visit to China while his current club Paris Saint-Germain are on a break for international fixtures, said his focus was on developing the sport at grassroots level.

"What has gone on in the past? I am not a politician so I have nothing to do with it," he told a press conference in Beijing. "I am helping in the education for young kids and young aspiring footballers. It's as simple as that.

"I am not here to clear up anything. I am here to educate the children and give them a chance of becoming professional footballers."