We may lose, but we'll be able to curse the ref in French

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The Independent Online
Common-or-garden British football fans are better known for their ability to consume large quantities of lager and bellow bawdy terrace chants than for their linguistic finesse.

But that may be changed by a series of language courses to be run from next month by the Institut Francais for English-speaking visitors to matches at the 1998 World Cup in France.

The classes will be geared mainly to the needs of media and football professionals, but they will also be open to supporters of British teams that qualify.

Students will be given a basic grounding in the terms used in the sport the French endearingly call le foot.

Supporters who do not know their gardiens de but (goalkeepers) from their arbitres (referees), or their coups d'envoi (kick-offs) from their coups francs (free kicks) are unlikely to experience the full Gallic flavour of the French Coupe du monde, it is thought. Not only would their chants be unintelligible to the locals, but visiting fans would be unable to swap terrace quips with French supporters.

The courses will also teach general French, to help supporters, journalists and football pros negotiate their way round the Paris Metro, order some escargots or find a room in a pension.

The institute's director of studies, Richard Michel, said: "If the supporters are going to be staying in France for several days, of course it is going to be helpful.

"We will teach basic French, but also about how the administration of the World Cup works and all the institutions that the people will have to deal with."

For those fans unable to attend the Institut Francais's classes, the panel on the left contains some useful phrases.

'Foot' notes

I'm gutted: Je suis deg.

I'm over the moon: C'etait la folie! Quel pied! C'etait d'enfer!

We was robbed: On s'est fait arnaque. On s'est fait encule. On s'est fait entube.

Haven't you got any real food? C'est quoi, cette bouffe degueulasse? Est-ce que vous avez autre chose que ces saloperies?

Don't you sell beer by the pint? Est ce que je peux avoir un pint et pas un demi?

Any spare tickets going? Y a encore des places?

Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough: Vas-y si tu es un homme.

Dodgy keeper: C'est une vraie passoire.

Are you blind, ref? T'es aveugle, ou quoi?