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Record Number of Employees Skip Work as World Cup Fever Seizes U.S.

USA fan Gerson Sanchez, 27, reacts during the 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match between Germany and the U.S. at a viewing party in Hermosa BeachConsidering the lukewarm history of soccer enthusiasm in the U.S., many have been surprised by Americans sudden case of World Cup fever. Yet while fans across the country are cheering, employers are booing the high cost of weekday spectatorship.

Yesterday’s U.S. match against Belgium was estimated to have a significant toll on the nation’s productivity. Whether streaming the game on a laptop, slipping out to a sports bar for an extended lunch break, or sneaking peeks on a screen at in the office, millions of Americans were checked out of their day jobs to follow the game. Unfortunately, the U.S. lost to Belgium 1 – 2.

According to figures from the U.S. match with Germany on June 26, 20 million Americans skipped work to view the game; with 14 million of those viewers making pay around $24.38 an hour, the soccer madness translated into nearly $682 million worth of lost worker productivity, according to numbers crunched by Yahoo! Finance.

Forbes reported viewership totals for yesterday’s match against Belgium at nearly 16 million Americans. Worldwide, the 2014 World Cup audience is expected to exceed the 2010 World Cup’s 3.2 billion viewers.

Yet some commentators have argued that soccer fever in the workplace may end up being a bonus for businesses. Educational technology company Imagine Easy Solutions told Forbes that watching games boosts company morale and increases connectivity across the office.

“The energy around the office is awesome; everyone feels more connected to their co-workers and the products we work together on. It’s made a big difference,” a product marketing manager at Imagine told Forbes.

In some cases, workers have been encouraged to take a break to watch the U.S. team’s matches. On June 26, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gave state workers an extended lunch break so they could watch the U.S. vs. Germany game.


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