A valuable portrait of soccer star David Beckham has been defaced with the words "You Loosers" in thick red permanent ink.

The $13,500 (GBP7,500) photograph - part of an acclaimed exhibition of the world's most famous soccer players in London's ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS - is thought to have been vandalised by a disgruntled ENGLAND fan, angry at captain Beckham for missing a penalty against PORTUGAL during last week's (24JUN04) EURO 2004 quarter-final.

The incorrect spelling refers to Beckham's alleged affair with his former PR, Rebecca Loos, a story which has filled British tabloids for much of this year (04).

Exhibition curator DAVID GROB complains, "We were all very annoyed when England went out of the tournament but this is just too much. I'm extremely upset.

"This exhibition was supposed to combine football and art and make art more accessible. Beckham seems to cause strong emotions in people."

The art show - featuring 117 images by the world's most celebrated photographers - runs until 31 August (04) after which it will begin an international tour.

30/06/2004 14:04