ENGLAND still does not know if it will be going to France for next year's World Cup in football. But a group of eight British academics already have their tickets booked.
Hugh Dauncey and Geoffrey Hare, of the French studies department at Newcastle University, are to edit a study of the competition to shed light on modern France.
Dr Dauncey says: "When you mention French studies people tend to think in terms of Molire and Racine - of high culture. But the cup will help show that there is more to it than chateaux and countryside.
"They are determined to show that they can run a better competition than the Americans in 1994," he adds.
The French team, among the favourites for the cup, displays the multiracialism of modern France. "Players like Zidane provide heroes for otherwise disaffected young people. There is a long tradition of immigrants in French football - Poles before the war, Italians and Spanish afterwards and Algerians after independence in 1962."