Beckham defends England players

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David Beckham rejected Monday claims that England players were being greedy with regard to bonus payments at the 2006 World Cup.

There have been reports that players stand to earn up to 300,000 pounds per man (450,000 euros) should they win the tournament in Germany.

However England captain Beckham insisted: “The truth is that we are earning less for this World Cup than we were for the last tournament.

“I know for a fact that every one of the players in our team would play for our country for nothing,” he also told the London Evening Standard.

“There is money in football and we talk about bonuses every time a big competition comes around – and there is always criticism of the players when bonuses are agreed.

“But money isn’t the motivation – not at all. When you are a 15-year-old watching the World Cup, you don’t dream of playing in it because you can make loads of money. Players don’t think like that, you want to be there to play on that stage.

“We don’t go into a game thinking we can make money for winning. There is too much pride and passion in our team to even suggest that.

“The FA make money and the players always get bonuses, that is a fact. And if we do not succeed then the money is not there.”

The 30-year-old Real Madrid midfielder was in London to launch the David Beckham Academy, a soccer school for aspiring youngsters, in Greenwich, East London.

Earlier, he said he hoped that 15,000 children a year would attend the academy, situated next to the Millennium Dome.

“I would be very disappointed if anyone saw anything cynical in it,” he explained. “I have taken a lot from football and I wanted to create something special, something different, a place for children.”