Ambassadors bet on USA-England World Cup match

The England team rests after a recent practice The US ambassador in London will buy his counterpart a steak if England wins

Diplomats in London and Washington have raised the stakes over Saturday's US-England World Cup clash by wagering a meal over the game's outcome.

The bet was brokered in cables between aides to US Ambassador Louis Susman and UK Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald.

"We will understand if you decline, given the outcome of the last such encounter," a US aide wrote, referring to the US defeat of England in 1950.

A UK aide said Sir Nigel took his steak like that win - "somewhat rare".

'Generous nation'

"Even for such an exceptionally optimistic nation as the United States, I am struck by the confidence with which your ambassador proposes this wager," Martin Longden, press secretary to Sir Nigel, wrote to Philip Breeden of the US embassy in London in an exchange first reported by Politico.com.

"It is testament, I assume, to the generosity of your great nation, since the British ambassador does not anticipate paying out."

Mr Breeden replied: "It is true that our soccer (a fine English word we have kindly preserved for you) history is not as long and illustrious as yours.

"However, as your generals noted during World War II, we have a unique capability for quickly identifying and advancing talent."

British embassy staff, their families and some US acquaintances will be watching the game on a big-screen television at the embassy in Washington.

Roughly one quarter of the embassy staff are American nationals, "so it should make for a lively crowd", an embassy official told the BBC.

"We're not doing anything more grand," the official said. "We'll leave that to the final."

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