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Monday, July 3, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Beckham gives up England captaincy

BUEHLERTAL, Germany — David Beckham quit as England captain Sunday, the morning after his team went out in the World Cup quarterfinals on penalties to Portugal.

A tearful Beckham, wearing a suit and tie, read a statement to a crowded news conference at England's training camp.

"I have lived the dream," he said. "I am extremely proud to have worn the armband and been captain of England; and for that, I will always be grateful."

He stressed that he wanted to continue playing for the national team.

First capped at 21 against Moldova in September 1996, Beckham was named captain for the first time by caretaker coach Peter Taylor for a friendly in Italy. He took over the captaincy permanently from Alan Shearer, who retired after the 2000 European Championship.

On Sunday, Beckham said he felt "the time is right to pass on the armband as we enter in a new era" under Steve McClaren, who is taking over as England coach from Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Beckham, 31, has been captain for 58 of his 94 England caps. He said he had decided "some time ago" to quit as captain after this World Cup, his third.

Tuesday: Germany vs. Italy, noon (ESPN, UNIV).

Wednesday: Portugal vs. France, noon (ESPN, UNIV).

Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard or Chelsea defender John Terry is most likely to take over as captain. Both are captains for their Premier League clubs.

Beckham has been England's most famous soccer player for nearly a decade — first for his romance with pop star Victoria Adams of the Spice Girls, then for helping Manchester United win the Champions League, FA Cup and Premier League in 1999.

His celebrity grew to encompass his professional and personal life. "Posh and Becks" became Britain's biggest celebrity couple, even when he moved to Spain's Real Madrid in 2003.

His trademark curling free kicks even inspired the name of the popular 2003 movie, "Bend It Like Beckham."

On Saturday, he left the field with a leg injury in the 52nd minute. England played for almost an hour with 10 men after Wayne Rooney was given a red card, but the British held the Portuguese to 0-0 after 120 minutes.

Beckham could not participate in the penalty shootout, which Portugal won 3-1.

"This decision has been the most difficult of my career to date," he said. "It has been an honor and a privilege to have captained our country, and I want to stress that I wish to continue to play for England and look forward to helping both the new captain and Steve McClaren in any way I can."

Bad behavior under review

Germany midfielder Torsten Frings was cited for throwing a punch at an Argentine opponent and could miss his team's World Cup semifinal match against Italy.

FIFA took action Sunday after reviewing TV footage of the on-field melee that followed Germany's penalty shootout win over Argentina in Friday's quarterfinals.

A decision on a possible punishment was expected today.

Although FIFA was still investigating the incident and considering action against Argentina's Maxi Rodriguez and Leandro Cufre, it pressed ahead with the case against Frings because Germany needs to know whether it can use him in Tuesday's semifinal match in Dortmund.

FIFA opened a case against Rodriguez on Sunday. The panel also was considering a case against German and Argentine officials and already had begun an investigation into Cufre.

Rooney could face further punishment after a FIFA disciplinary committee reviews his red card from England's loss to Portugal.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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