Managers fear the soccer World Cup could cost them up to £1 billion in lost production as workers take time off to follow their team, according to a report today.
The Chartered Management Institute said more than half of 700 employers surveyed were "panicking" at the financial impact of staff being distracted by the tournament in the coming weeks.
A majority of employers feared that "endless" conversations about football will divert employees' attention from their job, and they suspected that soccer-loving employees were planning to take unauthorised time off to watch games.
Ruth Spellman, chief executive of CMI, said: "It's greatly concerning that so many managers have fears around the World Cup. They clearly feel ill-equipped to develop appropriate strategies to cope with the problems associated with major sporting events.
"The fact that more than half of our managers and leaders think that there is nothing they can do to prevent the World Cup from distracting staff or to limit unauthorised absences amplifies the desperate need for improved standards of management and leadership.
"Better trained and qualified managers would be able to see the World Cup as a great opportunity for engagement, and take proactive measures to manage the situation to get the best out of it.
"The World Cup should not negatively impact business performance. In fact, leaders could be missing a trick by dwelling on fears of coping with empty offices all summer.
"We're convinced it offers some fantastic opportunities to address some of the issues which have plagued UK organisations since the downturn struck - things like waning morale, insecurity and a lack of engagement."