The "economy of football"

22-06-2006

These days all eyes are on Germany where the football World Cup is well underway. Most would probably agree that football is good business. Good news especially for retailers: football fans are spending more on items such as beer, spirits, food and audio-visual equipment, as well as more time and money in pubs and clubs. But such high profile sporting events also have a negative impact- namely, for employers, especially if matches are held on workdays and in the afternoons.

A new survey by the EuropeTalent.com agency on the Football World Cup and employee productivity has revealed that every third employee in the Czech Republic has taken or will take a day off during the World Cup or cut their hours on a day when a key match is played. One percent of respondents have even said they will call in sick on such a day. On Thursday, ahead of the crucial Czech Republic-Italy game, Jan Velinger went out into Prague's busy streets and asked a few people whether they would try and leave work, or at least listen to the game at the office:

Young mother: "I am on maternity leave, yes! I can not 'escape'!"

RP: And, how about your husband? Do you think he'll try and escape?

"No! I'm sure he will not!"

RP: Do you think that a solution for companies is to allow employees to at least listen to the game, or at least have the game on, on a television in the corner?

"I can tell you just from my experience - I was working in a bank - that it would never be possible. Never!"

Older man: "If [employers] decided to allow a break say at four o'clock, than I think that that would be a very intelligent and good solution. That is my answer."

Woman in late 20s: "I don't think anyone in a private company, for example, [would try to leave early]. I don't know about the state sector!"

Early 20s: "I think that men will be in the pubs and that nobody will be a work!"

RP: Some unlucky people...

"Yes, maybe!"

Some companies have opted to let employees watch the games in the workplace in the attempt to curb mysterious "absenteeism". Around half of the companies in this country have planned to opt for that strategy, including the TPCA car factory in Kolin where workers have been given a two-hour break on Thursday, for example, to watch the Czech Republic's match on large screens in the company canteen. Economic analyst Marketa Sichtarova says even though a slight drop in productivity can be expected this month, on a large scale the impact of the World Cup will not be important.

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK "Individual companies may have the feeling that their employees are taking days off en masse now, but on the other hand, more employees on holiday now means fewer people away in July and August. Similarly, some companies may be registering higher revenues on sports equipment now but on a macroeconomic level this makes no difference."

The football craze can be expected to have an influence on the Prague stock exchange as well. Trading usually stops at 5 pm but on the days when the Czech Republic plays a match, Czech traders disappear long before closing time.

Not only that, the result of the match can influence the investors' mood on the following day.

22-06-2006