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World Cup Fever

Around the globe, we’re rooting for the home team (or a co-worker’s home team).

CSL employees showing off their World Cup fandom.
CSL employees and their loved ones from around the globe have been showing off their fandom in and out of the office during this year's World Cup.

What do you do when your home country does not even qualify for the World Cup? (I’m looking at you, United States.) Well, if you work for a global company, you can always choose another country’s team and at least root for your colleagues.

It was easy to switch allegiance to Australia, where CSL Limited is based. Unlike the U.S., the Aussie team was among the 32 teams bound for World Cup greatness in Russia. For a while, employees at the office in Parkville, Australia, enjoyed spirited morning discussions about the games, even though they’re being played in an inconvenient time zone for Australians, said Seshu Pinnamaneni, who works in Parkville on the finance team.

But alas, Australia did not make it out of group play.

“We were all emotional Australian supporters and were flat after Australia got knocked out, but the purists continue their emotional discussions every morning still,” Pinnamaneni said.

After saying farewell to Australia, Germany was the next logical choice. In Germany, CSL Behring has a rich history and many employees. Early in the games, a German colleague emailed a favorite quote among football fans in Deutschland. It dates back to 1990 when English footballer Gary Lineker said: “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”

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In the latter part of June, World Cup fever was going strong in Marburg, Germany, where the CSL Behring cafeteria had the games playing. Co-workers also ventured off campus to public viewing sites, where they could celebrate in the crowd. Except it wasn’t Germany’s year to celebrate. They, too, were eliminated.

“This is the World Cup of the surprises,” said Juan Feliu from Argentina, where he’s a Senior Director for Latin America. 

The games had been much on the minds of employees in Argentina, Feliu said. They watched the matches together and even set up a contest with prizes. Argentina made it to the single-elimination round. But unfortunately for Feliu and his team, Argentina was bested by France.

CSL Behring’s team in Mexico also had been closely following the games, watching the Mexico matches in the main meeting room, said Nicolas Martinez, a general manager for Latin America. You might recall that during an earlier World Cup game, simultaneous celebrations after a Mexico goal are believed to have triggered seismographic equipment, used to measure earthquakes. But the earth-shaking fun quieted with Mexico’s July 2 loss to Brazil.

Portugal also had a good run. David Ventura, CSL Behring’s Head of Sales and Marketing for Portugal, described his country’s first match against Spain as “not appropriate for cardiac patients.” And local excitement was so intense during Portugal’s second game, co-workers in Lisbon heard cheers erupt outside their office as a goal was scored. Ventura had hoped Portugal would prevail, especially with superstar Cristiano Ronaldo on the squad, but the team recently fell to Uruguay.

Absent Argentina, Feliu says Brazil looks strong. They play again on July 6.

Brazilian Gustavo Fernandes agrees about Team Brazil. He’s a general manager for Latin America and works in the Sao Paolo office. With their team still in it, employees wear team jerseys on game days and share breakfast while watching the matches, Fernandes said. They’ve even decorated the office in the colors of Brazil.

As proof of Brazil’s dominance, colleagues in Switzerland, where CSL Behring has a large manufacturing site, are taking an earlier tie with Brazil as a good omen. To advance, the Swiss team next must get by Sweden in a July 3 matchup.

Back here in the United States, Monica Silveira and Merlin Forero, are honoring their roots by supporting Colombia.

“We also love the U.S. soccer team, but since they did not make it to the cup this time, we are all in for Colombia,” Silveira said. The two work in Boca Raton, Florida, as part of the AskHR team for the Americas.

Merlin brought in her Team Colombia jersey and hung it in her cubicle. Asked for a prediction, they went with Brazil.

“They are a strong team and they have won the World Cup five times before,” Silveira said.

Don’t count out Uruguay, says Marianela Garcia Umpierrez, a native of Uruguay, who works in CSL Behring’s office in Santiago, Chile. Rooting for Uruguay makes her feel closer to home, she said. In Santiago, she’s CSL Behring’s Controller and Finance Manager. Though the office includes colleagues from different countries, Umpierrez says they all hope a South American country will win the World Cup this year.

“My dream is that Uruguay wins the World Cup, because we are a small country with a population of 3.5 million people … Our culture is characterized by perseverance and effort, and winning the World Cup would be an unparalleled reward,” she said.

Which countries will make it to the final on July 15? It’s tough to predict, but it’s possible someone in this article will be very, very happy.