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FIFA World Cup 2018: Football carnival in Russia spells downtime for Brazilian businesses

Rio de Janeiro: When Brazil's team takes to the field at the World Cup, workers back home will down tools, pens and computers.

With the time difference, the games in Russia will be shown either in the morning or afternoon – office hours.

But football is sacred in Latin America's biggest country and for many nothing will get in the way of watching the "Selecao's" games, starting this Sunday.

Brazil's national football team fans cheer in central Moscow on June 14, 2018 during the opening day of Russia 2018 Football World Cup. / AFP PHOTO / Vasily MAXIMOV

"It's practically impossible for people to concentrate on work during a Brazilian World Cup match". AFP

According to the national shopkeepers' federation CNDL, 28 percent of service sector businesses will allow employees to stay away or to watch the games when Brazil plays. Seventeen percent have already prepared viewing areas at the work place.

"It's practically impossible for people to concentrate on work during a Brazilian World Cup match," said Robson Melo head of Estante Magica, which publishes books by children and employs about 100 people in central Rio de Janeiro.

Employees at the business have been given a mini-stadium experience featuring dozens of Brazilian flags hanging, artificial grass and pretend terracing. Of course there'll be popcorn and sandwiches during game time.

"We'll stop for matches. There's no question of lowering productivity, though," Melo said. "Our team is young and used to working autonomously, with flexible hours."

Of course, the nationwide slowdown means business opportunities for others. That means that the overall economic effect is expected to be largely neutral.

Twenty eight percent of businesses will see a rise in income during the month-long championship and 23 percent will see a drop, according to Valor financial daily.

Shooting for profits

Brazilian sportswear giant Netshoes in Sao Paulo has put artificial turf in its elevators and given employees a ball to play with. It's all part of ways to make sure workers watch the games – but in the office, rather than going out.

There's even been a special visit from former Brazil star Denilson who was part of the cup winning team in 2002.

Flytour travel agency chain says 30 percent of its 2,000 employees will continue working during games, to make sure that the business can function.

"We can't completely stop. We have clients traveling all over the world. Their flights could be cancelled and they'd have to contact us at any moment," human resources manager Carla Mota said.

For restaurants on the other hand, the World Cup is a time to maximize profits.

"We've received many reservations from businesses and we've decided, as an exception, to start serving breakfasts for the early morning matches," said Carla Teixeira, marketing manager at the Emporio Colonial, in central Rio.

Crooks hooked, too

Foreign businesses have to learn the local customs when it's World Cup time.

At the Michelin tire factory in Campo Grande, west of Rio, the production line runs 24 hours a day. But a spokesman for the French company said that workers will be allowed to stop during changes of shift when Brazil's playing.

Expatriate employees can be surprised by the slacking off.

"But even if it's the first time they've been in Brazil at World Cup time, our foreign bosses understand how important it is in Brazilian culture to watch the games," Pfizer Brazil human resources manager Sheila Ceglio said.

State employees will also catch a break.

The government has allowed them to adapt their working hours around the Brazil games, "as long as essential services are not interrupted."

There'll be no such fun for Rio police officer Ulisses Achur. "We keep working as normal," he said.

The good news is that the city's criminals are likely to be glued to the screen too. "We note there are fewer crimes at those times because most people are watching the game," he said.

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Updated Date: Jun 16, 2018 15:03 PM

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