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Tips for Dealing with the World Cup at Work

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Got any soccer fans in your office? Are you doing business or looking for a job internationally? Then you might want to pay attention to the following piece of information: the soccer World Cup starts next week. While that might not be of much interest to many in the U.S., it’s a really big deal just about everywhere else on the planet: so big, in fact, that more people are expected to watch it than the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

official world cup 2010 logo
So what’s that got to do with doing business or finding a job? A few things, actually, which are summarized as points to bear in mind below:

Check the schedule

Imagine if your team made it to the Super Bowl, and they held it in the middle of the day on a Thursday. Even if you went to work, you’d want to follow that game, right? That’s essentially the scenario desk-bound fans around the world face between June 11 and July 11 this year. The tournament is being held in South Africa, which poses obvious logistical challenges for fans not on the same continent. And—at least in the early stages—games take place seven days a week, meaning your overseas contacts may well be surreptitiously (or openly) watching the big game at what might seem like a ridiculous hour.

So before calling a client in Brazil or a potential job lead in England you probably want to check to see if their team (or a major contender for the title) is playing. Because even if you get them on the phone, or into a meeting, you probably won’t have their full attention. View the official Fifa schedule.

Be prepared to wait for things

It’s an established fact by now that productivity dips during major sporting events that coincide with office hours. Whether it’s March Madness, the opening rounds of a major golf tournament or a Grand Slam tennis event, people who follow the sport will likely have one eye—if not both of them—on the events. So that email you need an answer to might not get dealt with as urgently as you’re used to. The good news? Soccer is usually a quick affair: 90 minutes for the game, plus a half-time break. Even games that drag on to extra time and penalty shootout eliminations only last two and a half hours.

Follow the results

Sure, it might not be your favorite game, but there are a couple of good reasons to follow the results: first, the U.S. is participating. And, second, it never hurts to be able to congratulate or commiserate with a contact from elsewhere as their team progresses or gets eliminated. Which leads us to:

If you can’t beat them, join them

Especially if you’ll be spending time abroad during the World Cup. It’s going to be everywhere, so you may as well accept the reality. Who knows? You might even like it: there has to be some reason it’s the world favorite game, right?

Oh…and while you’re at it:

Call it “football”

At least when you’re talking to someone outside the US. That’s how it’s known almost everywhere else, and even if they know you call it “soccer,” they’ll appreciate the gesture.


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