POLITICS
14/06/2018 00:01 BST | Updated 14/06/2018 09:59 BST

Labour Wants Football Fans To Be Allowed To Watch World Cup At Work

The tournament kicks off in Russia today.

Jason Cairnduff / Reuters
Football fans should be allowed to watch World Cup matches at work, Labour and the TUC have said 

Labour has backed calls for football fans to be allowed to watch matches at work during the World Cup. 

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) called on employers to be as flexible as possible with staff during the month-long tournament, allowing them to work from home or move their shifts to accommodate big games. 

Describing the World Cup as a “landmark sporting event”, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said millions of workers around the UK would want to cheer on their national teams. 

“Tournaments like this can be a great for building camaraderie at work, with colleagues running sweepstakes and spending time together,” she said, adding that bosses should try their best to avoid scoring “an own goal” with staff. 

Shadow sports minister Rosena Allin-Khan echoed the organisation.

She said: “As a nation, we’re proud to cheer on England in the World Cup and we believe that employers should be flexible with fans supporting our national team in the coming weeks.”

Jack Taylor via Getty Images
Labour's shadow sports minister Rosena Allin-Khan (pictured with London mayor Sadiq Khan) backed the TUC's calls  

Allowing employees more flexibility in how and when they work “makes them happier and more productive,” O’Grady added. 

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport declined to comment.

The call from the TUC - which represents more than 5.6 million workers through member unions - comes on the first day of the World Cup. 

An opening ceremony featuring 90s pop icon Robbie Williams is set to raise the curtain on the tournament on Thursday afternoon, shortly before the first match between host-country Russia and Saudi Arabia kicks off. 

The eyes of the world will be on Russia during the series of fixtures, with the safety of fans - especially LGBT+ and BAME spectators - seen as a key concern. 

Speaking in the Commons last month, foreign secretary Boris Johnson said it was “on the honour” of the Russians to ensure the safety of travelling fans.