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The FIFA World Cup - the benefits explained

By Andy Wilson

On 12 June in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the FIFA World Cup kicks off. Thirty two teams will compete for football’s ultimate prize in what promises to be a summer of samba “soccer”.   

If you thought the only people to financially benefit from the FIFA World Cup are producers of football anthems or purveyors of plastic flags, then it might be the time to think again. Before you make up your mind that the impact of most of your workforce watching endless hours of football will increase your absenteeism and reduce productivity, you may want to consider the question: Can this major sporting event have an inspirational and positive economic effect on my business? In this blog, we will look at some of the potential impacts of the FIFA World Cup on your workforce. 

Is it possible that the impact of watching hours of football could actually improve the fitness of your employees by motivating them to get off the sofa and participate?

UK Sport researched this phenomenon in 2011 and concluded that 28% of spectators felt inspired to participate or participate more frequently in sport as a result of watching a major event on TV. The ability to inspire 280,000 people in a broadcast that reaches 1million viewers presents a significant opportunity to encourage people towards greater physical activity.   

So what’s in it for my business? 

Put simply, improved physical fitness could see a reduction in absence costs. 

Did you know a staggering £3.5 billion is lost to the UK economy each year through lower back pain alone, so anything that is going to reduce your exposure to this type of injury is surely a good thing. A fitter employee is going to have less time off work through soft tissue injuries and be less likely to sustain injury in the workplace.

What about the social and psychological benefits?  

We live in an age where increasingly employers are considering offering counselling services via EAPs for a variety of work and non-work related conditions. The Impact of Sport on the Workplace (2006) highlighted the following psycho-social benefits:

  • 63% of men and 52% of women said that sporting success (i.e. their team winning) has an impact on their approach to work.
  • 47% women and 40% of men said that sporting success lifts their mood and makes them more productive in their jobs.
  • A fifth of men said sport increases their motivation at work compared to 12% of women.
  • 71% advised that employee/ers can learn positive lessons from sport in terms of team building and that it breaks down hierarchical barriers in an organisation.
  • Only 3% said that sporting success is distracting and makes them less productive.

Wider socio-economic benefits

Analysis from previous FIFA World Cups shows that there is a direct correlation between the national team doing well and an upturn in the economy.   The further the national team have gone in the competition, the greater the positive mood of the nation and the more money people spend not only on food and drink, but televisions, and endorsed football products.    

In 1966, following England's success there was a baby boom - Can the winning country expect something similar to happen?

In Summary

Love it or hate, let’s face it, a lot of your workforce are going to be hooked to the FIFA World Cup.    Hopefully this article has shown that there are reasons to embrace it.   Here’s to improved moral, fitness and productivity………and a great tournament!