Global Operations Implications of the World Cup Soccer Tournament

31 May 2006|Miguel Winebrenner

In less than two weeks, the largest and most widely watched sporting event in the world will literally kick off. This event, known in the U.S. as the soccer World Cup, is organized every four years and this time around it will be hosted by Germany (a former host in 1974 and two-time World Cup champion). If you have worked in the global market for more than four years, you probably know how disruptive this event can be to global operations.

Common implications which could affect your businesses include:

1) Interruptions in corporate communications: even at the highest level, professionals in countries whose team is playing at the Cup could “disappear” during games. Don’t be surprised if emails aren’t replied to or important tasks are left aside. Even some of the international stock exchanges, like the Hang Seng, could experience slight hick-ups during the four week event.

2) Delays in shipments and drops in productivity: distribution effectiveness highly depends on human productivity, which may not be at its highest when certain matches are being played. If you have an important shipment heading to, say, Brazil or Germany that arrives for distribution the same day these teams play, don’t be surprised if things don’t run as smoothly.

3) Changes in consumer purchasing and behaviors: especially in host countries, but across most of the world, consumer behavioral patterns change during this four week period, especially among males 15-65 years of age. Beer consumption, for example, will increase substantially as will awareness of competitive product categories and brands that are Cup sponsors.

Here are a few helpful tips:

– If you are planning on traveling to Europe for important meetings between now and the end of July, keep in mind that flights may be full and there may be delays due to increased demand.
– Keep track of games that may affect your business– the Cup will be played in Europe (approximately + 6 hours EST, + 7 hours CST, + 9 hours PST) and most games will be in the afternoon and evening. To see teams and schedules go to
– If you are working with a client or a colleague in another country, keep up to date on the progress of the Cup. You will definitely score brownie points if you show them that you are interested and even better, if you know how their team fared the day before. All Cup games will be televised in the U.S. by ESPN, ESPN2, ABC and Univision (in Spanish).

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