The London Standard, David Beckham and the Madrid Bomber

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 24 March 2004

A simply incredible front-page story from the Evening Standard tonight. It took three journalists, Bill Bond, Patrick Sawer and Charles Reiss to reveal that:

"One of the Madrid bombing suspects is obsessed with David Beckham, it was revealed today.
The England captain came face to face with Moroccan Mohammed Bekkali two weeks before the rushhour carnage.
Bekkali, 31, who calls himself Bekks after his hero, waited outside Real Madrid's training ground and got the player to sign his birthday card."

Phew, that's a relief. It is investigative journalism after all. No other paper has managed to link Bekkali directly with Beckham, even though others have linked the accused with being a football fan. Indeed, nobody else has got directly to the crucial heart of the matter, that his nickname "Bekks" derives from an English player who signed for Real last year, rather than a slightly obvious contraction of his name.

For a second there I just thought it was a crude attempt to sell more papers by reducing the largest terrorist attack on Western European soil to being a bit-part player in the saga of this country's celebrity obsession with the gifted yet vacant England football captain.

Still I guess that would be a slightly more acceptable way to try and flog their paper than the way they initially broke the news of the attacks themselves - with a screaming headline and billboards proclaiming a terrorist attack on trains, failing to mention with the same prominence that it hadn't *actually* happened in London.

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