U.S., British Ambassadors Wager On World Cup Game

Ambassadors Louis Susman and Sir Nigel Sheinwald talk to Deborah Amos about their wager ahead of the U.S.-England World Cup soccer match Saturday in South Africa. Sheinwald is the British ambassador to the U.S., and Susman is the U.S. ambassador to the Court of Saint James.

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DEBORAH AMOS, host:

When the U.S. soccer team plays England in the World Cup, on Saturday, tournament hopes and dinner will be on the line. The ambassadors from both countries have wagered as much with each other. And they've joined us for some pre-match trash talk.

U.S. ambassador to the Court of Saint James, Louis Susman, is on the line from London.

Good morning, sir.

Ambassador LOUIS SUSMAN (Court of Saint James): Good afternoon here. But good morning there.

AMOS: And British ambassador to the United States, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, is with me in Washington.

Ambassador NIGEL SHEINWALD (United State): Good morning. I have the home advantage, I see.

AMOS: Indeed. Ambassador Sheinwald, what do you have on the table?

Ambassador SHEINWALD: What we have on the table is a bet, a wager, between the two ambassadors. In the event of an England victory, which frankly the world is expecting - and which I certainly am expecting - my colleague and friend, Lou Susman in London, is going to entertain me at a steakhouse of his choosing here in Washington, D.C. And in the very unlikely event that America wins this, then there's going to be a pub dinner in London. So that's the bet. That's what's at stake here.

AMOS: Ambassador SUSMAN: That sounds like a diplomatic equivalent of trash talk. Have you agreed to those terms?

Ambassador SUSMAN: I have agreed to those terms. And I'm anxiously looking to pick out the pub of my choice. This confidence factor, I sense from my colleague on Saturday's game, was somewhat d�j� vu from what happened in the last time we played together.

AMOS: That was 1950s, correct?

Ambassador SUSMAN: That's correct. And if I'm not mistaken, I think we won that game 1-0.

Ambassador SHEINWALD: You're right to recall the events of 1950. Most of us have forgotten about that very improbable victory in 1950, and remember that in the history of matches between our two countries it's 7-2 to the English team. And we're pretty confident about Saturday.

I have to say, as someone who was a schoolboy in 1966 when we won the World Cup, that as a fan, I've often been disappointed. So as ambassador, I'm confident. As a fan, I worry a bit, because the England teams have sometimes disappointed in the years following our great victory in '66.

Ambassador SUSMAN: Well, England has a great team and we respect and admire them, but we feel we have a little momentum, because there's been two matches. The embassy here in London had a match with the local U.K. And we had a match in South Africa with our embassy against theirs. And we won both victories. So we're feeling conservatively confident.

I do think one thing, putting the levity aside. I think it's wonderful that both countries have this kind of enthusiasm and excitement. And it's great for America and it's great for England.

AMOS: There's something about this special relationship, I think, that allows you two gentlemen to do a little trash talking. Do you think that that does open the door for you two to have this kind of chat about soccer?

Ambassador SHEINWALD: I think so. I mean, I would say definitely yes to that. We know what the foundations are. We know that the reality is that our two countries are working side by side in some of the most dangerous parts of the world. And on the top of that, we can have creative tension.

I'm sure that Saturday's game will be a good game. Probably quiet a close game. But I'm very, very confident, as British ambassador, what the result will be.

AMOS: Now, one result we do know, there will be a dinner. It will either be in a pub or it will be in a steakhouse. Do you two intend to wear your pinstripe suits as sports fans?

Ambassador SHEINWALD: No. I expect to wear my England shirt.

AMOS: And you, Ambassador?

Ambassador SUSMAN: I expect to wear my American winning shirt.

AMOS: Excellent. I hope that we can talk to you at dinner.

Ambassador SUSMAN: Thank you.

AMOS: I'd like to thank you both of you for joining us. U.S. ambassador to the Court of Saint James, Louis Susman, thank you for joining us.

Ambassador SUSMAN: Thank you.

AMOS: British ambassador to the U.S., Sir Nigel Sheinwald, thank you very much for being with us.

Ambassador SHEINWALD: Thanks so much.

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