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Staff absence during the world cup – a charitable solution


A charity and an alliance of football managers past and present have offered a solution to what is, in some quarters, evidently the most important HR issue of the year. Sven Goran Eriksson, Kevin Keegan, Glenn Hoddle, Terry Venables, Graham Taylor, and Bobby Robson are supporting Cancer Research UK’s ‘World Cup Party’ crusade to allow employees to watch the football at work.

England’s match against Argentina takes place on Friday 7 June in Sapporo, Japan. Because of the international time difference, it will be screened over here live on BBC1 at 12.30pm. Bosses fear tens of thousands of employees will be avoiding work to cheer on Sven’s men from their armchairs at home – which might result in red cards when they return to their desks.

Cancer Research UK has suggested that firms allow their staff extra time to crowd around TVs at work. In return for the privilege, employees make a donation – perhaps based on the equivalent of an hour’s pay – to help scientists reach their goal of finding effective treatments and cures for men’s cancers.

Sven Goran Eriksson said: “The World Cup Party is a magnificent idea. The whole country will be getting behind the England team on June 7 and throughout the World Cup. The more people who are able to watch the game live, the better. In urging workers not to take the day off and suggesting firms make every reasonable effort to allow employees to follow the lunchtime match on TVs, Cancer Research UK has hit upon an idea where everyone stands to win. I hope that winning feeling extends to myself and the entire England squad throughout the tournament. I am delighted to do my bit to raise awareness of men’s cancers. Because testicular cancer, in particular, threatens men of football-playing age, it is very important that people know the facts.”

To reflect the euphoria of the World Cup Party, workers are being urged to organise fun fundraising activities around the match. Perhaps everyone can come in to work dressed in red or white, take part in goal sweepstakes or hold a raffle to win the entire day off.

Bobby Robson, who had a tumour removed from his colon in 1995 and three years later had a malignant melanoma taken away from under his left eye, said: “As someone who managed an England World Cup side against Argentina in Mexico, I know how important it is for the team to know that the country is wholeheartedly behind them. “For the privilege of watching this titanic match, the football supporters of England can donate their salaries to Cancer Research UK. Having had involvements with both the World Cup and cancer, I thank everyone who supports this campaign from the bottom of my heart.”

Terry Venables said: “England have the ability to beat Argentina and with the appropriate resources we can give ourselves the best possible chance of beating cancer. I am wholly behind this initiative and if employers are prepared to participate, then the very least we can do is donate the relevant portion of our wages to a great cause.”

Kevin Keegan said: “England have every opportunity to go all the way in this World Cup – just as Cancer Research UK has a real long-term chance of achieving a cure for cancer. Hopefully, this initiative will help ensure that record numbers of viewers watch the game on June 7. By donating part of their wages to the charity, they will be funding continuing work by some of the world’s best scientists.”

To get involved with the World Cup Party and receive an information pack, ring the national hotline on 0870 160 2040 or log onto

Whether the whole experience will be the same if you can’t drink beer and shout is another question.

2 Responses

  1. Let’s be realistic
    I agree with the comments made by C Moss but, like many employers, believe that individuals will probably call in claiming to be sick, rather than take a day’s leave. The NSPCC in the Slough area have a similar arrangement in place for the 7 June match, where employees may ‘buy’ an additional hour at lunch time to watch the match, the cash going to their charity. Either way, Cancer Research or NSPCC, it seems a sensible solution for what may in some cases be a difficult situation for HR to monitor.

  2. Footie fans watching at work would pose a huge distraction
    I like many people work in an open plan office. It is often hard to concentrate due to people talking and allowing footie fans to watch matches in the office (with the associated booing/jeering and cheering sounds)would simply serve to ensure no-one is able to work efficiently. Surely people should expect to use their annual leave if they want to watch live matches (as is normal if people want to engage in leisure pursuits during working hours).

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