SAO PAULO, June 23 (Reuters) – Football fever is so intense in Brazil, the host of the World Cup soccer tournament, that even the main shipping ports in the commodity-exporting powerhouse are shutting down when the national team plays.
In Paranagua, Brazil’s No. 2 soy exporting port, the dock workers’ union negotiated an ordinance that lets them stop working an hour before the match and resume work an hour afterward for a total of around four hours to relax and watch the Brazilian team.
“This is unprecedented,” said the port’s press representative, Samar Razzak, who added that the port usually operates even during the New Year’s and Christmas holidays.
Brazil has not hosted a World Cup since 1950.
Dock workers went on strike several times last year and it is seen as in the interest of port authorities to keep them happy as soybean shipments wind down and sugar and coffee pick up in the world’s top exporter of those commodities.
The agreement in Paranagua applies to Brazil’s matches during group play, including Monday afternoon’s final group match against Cameroon, Razzak said. The match kicks off at 2000 GMT.
If Brazil advances to the next rounds of the tournament, which begins June 28 and ends July 13, a new ordinance will likely be drawn up, she said.
In Santos, the port that accounts for 25 percent of Brazil’s shipping trade, individual terminal operators decide what to do during the national team’s games, a port spokesman said.
During the previous two Brazil matches on June 12 and June 17, most terminals halted operations for two hours during the games and resumed work shortly thereafter, the spokesman added.
Administrative workers at both Santos and Paranagua planned to leave work at 1 p.m. local time on Monday, though some mooring and security workers were to continue working.
Financial markets, banks and other companies have also closed early on game days in Latin America’s largest economy. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer and Gustavo Bonato, editing by G Crosse)
© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.