WEB SITES

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France98

http://www.france98.com/

Internet Explorer 4 or Navigator 4 is recommended on the front page of the bilingual official site. Seasoned surfers will recognise this as a coded warning that the site is a graphically rich, frames-heavy affair. The news reports in the build-up were provided solely by the French agency AFP, which gave it a slightly one-dimensional feel. However, all the hard information you'd expect is on the site. There's plenty of detail about previous World Cups, too - though English supporters won't be impressed by a photo of the 1966 winners captioned "dubious champions". Away from the football, there's a downloadable screensaver (inevitably described as the coolest in the world), plus a chance to save up to 20 per cent on "athletic apparel and accessories" online.

Yahoo! World Cup

http://www.yahoo.co.uk/wc98

Yahoo's site is simply laid out, text-based, quick to use and comprehensive. On the news front, AFP is joined by Reuters, Press Association, Sports Informations Dienst and SportsTicker. The variety of editorial slants in the breaking news section during coverage of the warm-up games was a big plus. Invariably, there are links to other football sites, especially the American media's, and more background information than most fans will ever need. Forums for discussions are well supported. The promise of up- to-the-minute goal flashes means that in the corner of many an office computer screen, a small window will be running this Yahoo! page as a souped-up, real-time alternative to Teletext on the TV, or a radio earpiece.

football.guardian

http://football.guardian.co.uk/

This site, scheduled to go online today, should appeal to those who prefer their football analysis from named newspaper journalists; the Guardian and the Observer sports staff deliver the goods here. A World Cup diary, courtesy of When Saturday Comes, adds appeal. Live scores and full reports from every match will be available. A free daily e-mail news round-up, "the fiver" (it's due to be delivered at 5pm) is available "before, during and after the World Cup - ensuring that you never miss another major football story (or, indeed, any minor ones that have the makings of a decent joke)".

broadcast.com Sports Channel

http://www.broadcast.com/sports/

worldcup98/

Fifa and the European Broadcasting Union are not authorising live match radio broadcasts over the Internet, but the events from France are being covered live via RealAudio. Pirate audio feeds will doubtless be found by the determined, but official sound streaming is the draw here. There are also archived files with reports on the warm-up matches, news of teams and interviews with players.

England World Cup 98

The Fans Page

http://www.england98.com/fans/index.html

One for the lads, if the banner ads are anything to go by. Live commentary is promised, and this site majors in giving the fans their say. A lot of people have a lot to say about all things Gazza-related. Votes on important England issues are held: who's the ugliest England player? Which England song is best? Chat room facilities and an e-mail list cater for those wanting a more leisurely approach. If you're feeling rich or foolhardy, you could even try out the ticket area, which seems to have a monopoly on expensive spare tickets for games between rank outsiders.

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