Football viewing to cost SFr300 million

The Swiss are likely to spend a total of 5.8 million hours in front of the box during the Cup

The Football World Cup is set to cost Swiss employers an estimated SFr300 million ($189 million), as soccer fans stay at home to watch the action.

This content was published on May 25, 2002 - 17:04

According to a study by the University of St Gallen, matches in host countries Japan and South Korea will mostly be played during Swiss working hours due to the eight-hour time difference.

For the millions of Swiss fans who take their football seriously, sending a sick note to the office - or no note at all - may be the only option to take in a match.

Unfortunately for employers, the month of global football mania ends just as the summer holidays kick-off, St Gallen's Institute for Economic and Financial Research said in a report published by the weekly newspaper, "Cash".

Counting the cost

In order to calculate the cost of the World Cup, economists multiplied the 5,8 million hours the Swiss are expected to spend in front of the box by the average hourly wage of SFr51.1.

SFr300 million is maximum cost

"We were very surprised by this figure," said professor Franz Jaeger, director of the Institute.

"It must be said, though, that this is on the upper end of the scale. We aren't sure whether the figures at the basis of our calculation are realistic. A precise forecast is not possible," he continued.

The economists for example did take into consideration those who work part time. Nor did they factor in the extra time many will work in order to compensate the hours spent watching Zidane and Figo on the box.

Not all bad news

The positive impact the Football Cup could have on Switzerland was not calculated, the economists pointed out. This may include "the increased consumption of beer" or the increase in television set purchases.

So far, it seems companies are unprepared for the Cup, which kicks off on Friday. Only Sulzer and Swiss Re have taken measures to cope with football mania, according to "Cash".

They're offering to broadcast the matches during lunch-time, or their employees can opt to reschedule their work timetable.

Employers at swissinfo, Nestlé and Novartis offer no such alternatives.

"I'm sure employers are going to be as flexible as possible," Jaeger said. "A Football World Cup is always important to people. The Cup can brighten the atmosphere, raise spirits, and finally, improve the productivity of employees."

swissinfo/Pierre Gobet

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