David Beckham is poised to be given a dual role as both player and opening ceremony ambassador at the Olympic Games in London, Yahoo! Sports has learned.Sources close to the LOCOG (London Olympic Games Organizing Committee) confirmed Friday that the 37-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder will face one of his busiest periods as a professional during the first week of the London Games: He'll play for England and also serve as an Opening Ceremony ambassador.
Beckham was part of the initial 35-man preliminary list submitted to governing body FIFA by Great Britain team manager Stuart Pearce on Friday. That will be whittled down to a final 18-man squad in the weeks leading up to the event.
Although Olympic men's soccer is for players ages 23 and under, up to three over-age players are allowed. Beckham will be one of those, sources said, probably alongside fellow veterans Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy.
However, his duties will not be confined to the soccer field, as event organizers plan for Beckham to have significant involvement at the opening ceremony July 27.
Despite rumors in the London press, Beckham will not be awarded the honor of lighting the Olympic flame, but will be featured in a formal role in front of the eyes of the world.
"There has always been a strong desire to have him involved in a visible and respectful way at the ceremony," one source said. "He is Britain's most famous sportsman, a proud representative of his country and from the London area. It is an appropriate reflection of the service he has given to the country. The logistics will take a little bit of sorting out, but they are workable."
The following morning, Beckham will make the 200-mile journey to London, then take his place in the Opening Ceremony and be part of the formalities. The gesture is fitting as Beckham played a major role in London winning hosting rights to the event back in 2005 and has served as a loyal ambassador ever since.
On the 28th, he will train with the Great Britain team before leading them out against the United Arab Emirates at Wembley Stadium the following night. The week will culminate with the final game in Group A against Uruguay at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, where Great Britain's chances of reaching the knockout stages may well be determined.
Beckham has often spoken of his desire to play in the Games, but has battled through a disappointing season for the struggling Los Angeles Galaxy, which has failed to recreate the superb form that saw it lift the Major League Soccer Cup last November.
"Whenever I have been asked about shirt sales or filling stadiums it has always felt a bit disrespectful," Beckham said last week. "I have always found it an honor that people have wanted to buy my shirt and an honor that fans turn up to watch the team I am playing in. But no, I don't want to be picked for shirt sales or as a stadium filler. I want to be picked for what I can bring to the team. That has been the case throughout my career and I don't want that to change."