Almanack: Return to sender

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DISREGARDING the fact that most Americans have never heard of the World Cup, the organisers have come up with some peculiar criteria for judging the success of their event. Their latest is philately. Co- ordinator Alan Rothenberg has announced that the US Postal Service will issue 800 million stamps related to his event, which means it may shift more postal product than even Elvis Presley. Rothenberg is ecstatic: 'If we can beat the King,' he enthuses, 'this will be the greatest World Cup in history.' In transatlantic philatelic history, anyway.

In another masterstroke, the organisers have scheduled one of the semi-finals, on 13 July, for a 7.30pm US (eastern time) kick-off: so should a European team be playing, supporters at home needn't bother switching on their televisions until 1.30am - when apathetic England fans will be snug, and smug, in bed.