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Hint of Beckham's affair sparks gossip frenzy
Updated: 2004-04-08 09:15

A whiff of trouble in the marriage of Britain's hottest celebrity couple ¡ª soccer star David Beckham and his former Spice Girl wife Victoria ¡ª has shaken fans¡¯ faith in "the strongest marriage in the country."

Tuesday's newspapers showed the pair cavorting happily at a French ski resort shortly after a report that he cheated on her with a former personal assistant. He has dismissed the allegation as ¡°ludicrous.¡±

The British press often portrays the Beckhams¡¯ marriage as close to perfect, lauding them as the nation¡¯s ¡°golden couple,¡± deeply in love and doting parents to their two young sons.

But since David Beckham left Manchester United last summer to play for the superstar-packed Real Madrid team, coverage has hinted at tensions between husband and wife.

The speculation came to a public head Sunday when the News of the World newspaper reported that Beckham, 28, whose handsome face is one of the most recognizable in international sports, had a sexual relationship with Rebecca Loos, 26. Loos worked for the star¡¯s management company SFX Group and acted as his assistant in Madrid until he cut ties with the firm in December.

The News of the World printed racy, but heavily edited, mobile phone text messages that it said David Beckham and Loos sent one another.

Beckham, who also captains England¡¯s national soccer team, said in a statement issued Sunday that his marriage was happy, he had a wonderful family and ¡°there is nothing that any third party can do to change these facts.¡±

¡°During the past few months I have become accustomed to reading more and more ludicrous stories about my private life,¡± the statement said. ¡°What appeared this morning is just one further example.¡±

The statement stopped short, however, of denying that an affair took place.

The Sun tabloid quoted Victoria Beckham as saying: ¡°We have been through a lot worse that this, and we¡¯re definitely going to get through this.¡±

Photos of the smiling couple cuddling and playing in the snow ¡ª in one the athlete gave his wife a piggyback ride ¡ª made the front pages of all Britain¡¯s tabloids. They were vacationing in Courchevel, in the French Alps.

Together! The Sun¡¯s front page headline chirped. ¡°The Beckhams show they are still so in love today,¡± said the Daily Express.

Others were more skeptical.

¡°Aren¡¯t they lovey-dovey. But as Posh and Becks stage this soppy picture, will new sex revelations leave her sick as a parrot¹Ò¡± the Daily Mail wondered.

Despite the new accusations of infidelity, some tabloids seemed reluctant to see their clean-cut hero tarred by the charges.

Daily Mirror columnist Tony Parsons wrote that it wasn¡¯t clear if the infidelity claim was true, but if it was he was ready to blame anyone but Beckham ¡ª including the athlete¡¯s wife, whom Parsons accused of having a ¡°casual attitude¡± to the marriage.

Her refusal to move full time to Spain and insistence on pursuing her own career made things difficult for her husband, Parsons opined.

¡°The strongest marriage in the country was abruptly turned into a long-distance relationship,¡± he wrote. ¡°If (the charge) is true, blame force of circumstance ... the desperate acts of a lonely man who misses his wife, his family and his country.¡±

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