BERNE, Switzerland -- Real Madrid midfielder David Beckham has become unwittingly involved in regional Swiss politics after his photo was used to promote the election campaign of a former professional referee-turned politician.
The photo, carried by several Swiss newspapers last week, shows the former England captain shaking hands with Philippe Leuba ahead of a 2005 friendly between England and Argentina.
Leuba is standing in local government elections in the western Swiss region of Vaud and a thought bubble placed next to Beckham in the photo has the player supposedly wishing: "I hope you are just as impartial in the state parliament as you were on the football pitch."
Beckham's management said on Thursday they had already taken steps to prevent further distribution of the campaign photo.
"The individual in question did not seek approval with regards to the use of David's image and our lawyers have been in contact to see that the image is taken out of circulation," Beckham's spokesman Simon Oliveira said.
Shortly afterwards Leuba, 41, said there were no plans to reuse the image and that he himself had never authorized the campaign.
"It was just a joke, a surprise that a friend arranged for me in the newspapers," Leuba told Reuters. "I got a mail from Beckham's lawyers which I have passed on to the advertising agency involved but the whole thing is finished anyway.
"It was never part of my official campaign and I think it's amazing that it has got so much attention. I don't think anybody in Switzerland would really have thought that David Beckham was supporting my campaign or even knew anything about it."