NEW YORK (PIX11) — It was the longest lunch hour that many people in the New York metro area have taken in a long time, but at some workplaces, it was no problem at all that the USA-Germany World Cup match brought productivity to a standstill.
In fact, some employers, including New York State’s fourth largest, took seriously the message from Team USA Coach Jurgen Klinsmann that taking off to watch the game was “an important cause.”
At Jack Dempsey’s Pub in Midtown, U.S. Soccer’s official sports bar, the patriotic sentiment was clear, but a path through the three floors of shoulder to shoulder fans wasn’t clear at all. After Team USA fans packed every square inch of the West 33rd Street watering hole, the owners and bouncers had to turn fans away.
Many of them were like so many of the people inside the bar. They would have been at work on Thursday except for the biggest U.S. soccer contest in at least the last decade. U.S. Men’s National Team fans Mike Bennett and Chris Zabady had planned to spend the day at Dempsey’s long before the big game.
“December 9,” they said, listing the day on which they’d requested the day off from work. “As soon as we knew this game was happening.”
Most of the people in that pub, or any of the three soccer bars on the block, had not arranged to be off so far in advance. Still, though, many had managed to get the green light to be on hand to watch the U.S. and Germany faceoff.
“We’re coming from work,” said Christina Kang about the situation she and her friends were in which would allow them to view the game live in a sports bar, rather than be in the office. “They support patriotism, I’m hoping,” she said about her supervisors, “and let the consequences fall.
At Legends Sports Bar, a few doors down, not one, but two business offices had been well aware that productivity would be at a low during the midday hours, when the game was underway. Rather than fight that situation, they just threw in the towel and made the USA-Germany match an office viewing event at Legends. Still, though, there was an irony to that.
When asked who was sponsoring the party he was attending, banking lawyer Mike Fascert told PIX11 News, “Deutschebank… the German bank.”
He added, “But we’re all American clients, and we’re not holding back.” In addition to his U.S. Soccer jersey, he wore a red, white and blue United We Stand scarf, and a necktie and shirt to match underneath the jersey.
His efforts seemed to be appreciated by Team USA Coach Klinsmann. He issued a letter Thursday morning, which U.S. Soccer tweeted out to fans, asking bosses to excuse office workers in order to watch the game, which he called “an important cause.”
New York State’s biggest boss, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, sent out his own tweet and letter in response, issuing an executive order that allowed all state workers to have an additional paid hour of lunch, on top of the one they’re guaranteed, in order to support Team USA by watching the game.
But at the German Hofbrau Bierhaus on Third Avenue, there was a slightly different vibe. When asked if there was any work happening at the office he had abandoned for most of the day in order to watch the soccer match, one German fan said an emphatic yes.
And some international fans, whose native countries weren’t even in the World Cup contest, told PIX11 News that they were working while they watched the game in the bar.
“I’m delivering this file to my boss,” said one soccer fan. “I guess there’s a soccer game going on today? Just kidding,” she said. However, she actually did have a manila file folder in hand that she delivered to her boss, who said he was an Indian national who just loves the game.
“A lot of work is going to get done today,” he said. A colleague of his, who was standing next to him, said they worked for the investment firm Compass Capital.
“We are still working here, as you can see,” he told PIX11 News. “So it’s work and play. But we can’t miss this game.”
Even though the U.S. lost 1-0, the Americans get to advance to the Round of 16, thanks their performance against other teams in the tournament, and the overall number of goals Team USA has scored relative to other teams in its division.
So in celebration, fans flocked out of Jack Dempsey’s, U.S. Soccer’s official bar, and gathered out front, in 33rd Street, nearly closing the block between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. They sang The Star Spangled Banner and other patriotic songs, and vowed to meet again for more soccer supporting carousing on Tuesday, when Team USA is set to meet the Belgian team.