Joy for fans, agony for businesses

Lucky students in Chile went home early, many Brazilian offices and stores went dark, and across the megalopolis of Mexico City traffic was as calm as midnight.

With three Latin American countries playing for their World Cup futures on Monday, fans across the region succumbed to soccer fever, slowing regular business to a crawl.

When Brazil’s national team plays, many workplaces across the country shut down. In host cities such as Rio de Janeiro, the government declared half- or full-day holidays on game days to clear the streets of commuters and enable soccer fans to move about with greater ease.

Last week, there were only two regular work days in Rio, a city of 12 million people.On Monday, before Brazil defeated Cameroon 4-1 in Brasilia, Catia Santiago was soaking up the sunshine on the golden sands of Copacabana beach rather than head to work to sell hair products.

Indeed, critics contend all of the time off is bad for business.

Financial newspapers have reported the volume of trade on Sao Paulo’s Bovespa stock exchange began to slow even before the June 12-July 13 tournament.

Fecomercio, a Sao Paulo-based group representing the goods, services and tourism sectors, warned that those businesses may lose up to USD 13.5 billion due to lost productivity and the need to pay double salaries to people who work government-declared holidays.

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