Charities waiting for cash

David Beckham's promise of his football wages for poor kids has yet to materialise

At the end of January, David Beckham and his new club, Paris Saint-German, made a public promise. All his wages, rumoured to be around €200,000 ($305,000) a week, would go to a children's charity in the Paris area.

Ten weeks later, the charities, and the children of Paris, are still waiting. No decision has yet been made. "We are considering various options," said Yann Guerin, the spokesman for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).

Should we expect a decision soon? Guerin could not say. A spokesman for Beckham said that a decision was likely in the next two or three weeks.

An investigation by the Independent this week has picked up no trace of any attempt by PSG to invite, or study, candidatures by children's charities in the Paris area. Groups that have written to the club have received only a brief, pro-forma letter in response. No follow-up approaches have so far been made.

PSG is reported to have been inundated with requests from associations working with children, not just from the French capital but from all over the world.

Sources close to the club, and to Beckham, said that PSG was already acquainted with the work of excellent children's charities in the Paris area. It has no need to ask for specific projects or information.

Six weeks remain to the end of the French football season and David Beckham's contract with PSG expires at the end of June. The club would like him to sign again for the 2013-14 season but Beckham has yet to commit himself.

At his introductory press conference at the Parc des Princes in January, Beckham said: "I thought what a great idea it would be, that the salary would go to a children's charity in Paris. It's something I'm not sure has been done before, and it's something I'm very passionate about, children and the charity side of things, and so is the club."

More than two months later, very little seems to have happened. "We wrote to them straight away because we have already work for several years with the PSG foundation," said Malika Tabti, secretary-general of Secours Populaire, one of the largest charities in France.

"We run several projects for children in the Paris area, including one which creates sporting opportunities and holidays for deprived youngsters. We could help far more children than we do but we are always short of funds."

Tabti received a short letter from PSG in early February saying that they would be back in touch. Since then, she has heard nothing.

"This was obviously something decided in a great hurry and it will take time to put into effect," Tabti said. "After they made so much of the idea publicly, I am sure it will happen eventually. But it's good that you are reminding them."

Other children's groups the Independent spoke to were somewhat less charitable. Martine Brousse is delegate-general of La Voix d'Enfant, a nationwide children's charity umbrella association which has12 kids projects in the Paris area.

"I can't say I'm disappointed because it is what I expected," she said. "I assumed that this was a publicity announcement rather than anything concrete. I thought all along that if PSG did anything, they would set up their own charity so that they could control everything themselves."

Sandrine Moutel is spokeswoman for a small charity called Pas d'enfants sans vacances (no childhood without holidays).

The group gives up to 300 children from the more deprived suburbs of Paris seaside trips and Christmas presents. Its annual budget of €50,000 ($76,000) could be increased fourfold with a single week of David Beckham's wages.

- Independent

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