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Butter Dish

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The World Cup is coming next summer, and Shoptalk couldn't be happier. Not so Fabien Barthez, beleaguered goalkeeper of France and possible future champion of British butter.

The flamboyant 30-year-old helped the French win the World Cup in 1998, but he's been sieve-like this year for his club team, Manchester United, letting shots dribble from his grasp. He soon earned the sad nickname Mr. Butterfingers, and it wasn't long before British supermarket chain Tesco's came calling, keen to have him flog its butter brand.

"No one can doubt Barthez has the ultimate butter fingers," Tesco's Simon Soffe told the British press. "His errors have put him on a slippery slope with his boss, [Man U coach] Sir Alex Ferguson, but he may have unwittingly landed a contract with us."

The tongue-in-cheek offer, the brainchild of Tes co's public relations firm Wonderful PR, was likely about as palatable to Barthez as a month-old Marmite sandwich. But he kept mum and remains, in his entertaining online journal (found at www.fabienbarthez.net), philosophical about his gaffes: "I've made mistakes before, and I will make mistakes again, of course I will. ... The English press only want to sell papers."