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Country-house opera wonders where it will get its next million

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SOCCER-WORLD/

There’s more to the English summer social calendar than sport – but it is in danger of being drowned out by the cries of disappointed football fans and sapped by lack of cash.

During the June and July evenings when much of Britain grinds to a halt to watch World Cup matches on giant screens in pubs and smaller screens at home, a different style of audience escapes to the countryside, wearing evening dress and carrying picnic hampers, for the 2010 season of country-house operas.

While the most famous are at Glyndebourne, a younger rival Grange Park Opera in Hampshire has also earned critical acclaim.

It is undeniably elite, but that does not mean it does not have money issues.

Whereas football is guaranteed enormous audiences and sponsorship deals, often in defiance of the quality of play, Grange Park ticket sales fell last year against the backdrop of global recession and funding cuts to the arts.

Best of Britain: England pride

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This week’s Best of Britain photos show the many different angles of people’s pride in England.

With the World Cup in full swing, one photo shows a house wrapped with fabric in the shape of St. George’s Cross ahead of the match against the United States.  While another shows a man with a British flag being held back by police during a counter-protest.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

More World Cup questions than answers for England’s Capello

SOCCER-WORLD/A muted send-off and a manager wanting more perhaps told the true story of England’s 3-1 friendly victory over Mexico at Wembley on Monday in which Fabio Capello was left with more questions than answers over his World Cup squad selection.

On the plus side, goalkeepers Joe Hart and in particular Robert Green would have given the Italian confidence in a position that poses a problem for fans with first-choice stopper David James still susceptible to a clanger.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

France break Irish hearts to seal World Cup slot

France ensured the likes of Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and Thierry Henry will be at the World Cup in South Africa next year after winning through with a goal that has left Irish fans seething.

There was nothing wrong with the finish from William Gallas, but Thierry Henry admitted using his hand to keep the ball in play and commentators and Irish supporters are already talking of "The Hand of God II" and "The Hand of Henry" in reference to Diego Maradona in 1986.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Beckham’s return to AC Milan confirmed

David Beckham will tread a familiar path once the MLS season is over, joining AC Milan on loan again for a five-month loan spell from January.

Milan have just announced the deal on their website (just in Italian for now), meaning any lingering hopes Premier League clubs had of changing the England midfielder's mind have finally been dashed.

Minister warns against “contaminating” 2012 Olympics

BRITAIN/Clerics and police have expressed concern, and now the Olympics minister has – London could see a proliferation in prostitution and human trafficking during the 2012 Games.

Some have warned the Olympics could see a repeat of the ”mega brothels” set up in German cities for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Is Fabio being beastly to the WAGS?

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SOCCER-WORLD/In keeping with the spirit of the times and with his own stern image, Fabio Capello has clamped down on the WAGS.

The wives and girlfriends, whose exuberance and excess often made for more interesting viewing three years ago in Germany than the games their HABS were involved in, have been banished to the stands.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

England sail through, but how are their World Cup chances?

So, once again, England qualify in style. The garages can start stocking up on plastic flags of St George, the breweries can breathe a sigh of relief and the tabloids can start their gradual shift from cautious support to the crescendo of expectation that will accompany Fabio Capello and his squad to South Africa next year.

But is there any evidence that "this time, more than any other time, they'll do it right"?

Share your memories of Sir Bobby Robson

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The death of Sir Bobby Robson, England’s most successful manager after Sir Alf Ramsey, had been expected given his long battle with cancer, but his passing still jolts.

The son of a miner, Robson’s career was characterised by dignity, loyalty and hard graft and no little success.

from FaithWorld:

Will sport ever be clean?

Church of England ministers have opposed what they call the "pragmatic" approach taken by some authorities to sex and sport, which ignores the sometimes prevalent link with human trafficking.

The emergence of the "mega-brothel", facilitated by some German cities during the 2006 football World Cup to meet the demands of the estimated three million fans at the tournament, horrified the dioceses of Winchester and Newcastle.

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