FOOTBALL: Even as European nations do battle this summer, ‘mamak’ shops and trendy restaurants will go head to head and employers will ‘fight’ employees
KUALA LUMPUR: THE usual Malaysian "derby" is on ahead of the European Championship fever.
While employees are asking for flexibility and permission to take time off during important games, employers are of the view that interest in sports should not affect work performance.
Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said employees should manage their interest without being in conflict with the company's interests.
"Sporting events not only interest male employees, it also involves the females now, so the request for flexibility is difficult to be fulfilled.
"If we start to do that, everybody will expect the same treatment."
Shamsuddin said poor turnout and a drop in productivity were expected during this season, but he urged employees to be more judicious.
"Employees will be taking more sick leave, even if they come to work, they won't be fresh. This will affect their productivity and work commitment."
He advised employees to avoid sacrificing their sleep to watch the games live and to record the late night ones to be watched later.
However, Malaysian Trades Unions Congress president Mohd Khalid Atan said the Euros, as the championship is known, is a once-in-four-years event, thus fans would have planned their leave accordingly.
"The championship will not affect work performance. Not many are hardcore fans, so employers should be able to give some leeway.
"Employees could either choose to take their annual leave or apply for half-day leave or time off."
However, Khalid advised employees not to take things for granted and ensure that they plan their activities so that productivity is not affected.
Another parallel contest will also be going on -- where to watch the games?
The local mamak restaurants appear to be the early favourites, but other restaurants are picking up the trend and have been installing big screens to attract football fans.
"Watching the games at the mamak restaurant is still the best way to enjoy the tournament," said England supporter Nasron Mohd Yasin.
"That's where you can see real fans supporting their favourite teams. Once, I saw a man throw a chair because he was so frustrated with a match."
Nasron said such restaurants offered a more comfortable and laid-back ambience than bars or up-scale restaurants.
"People can meet friends and make noise during the matches and no one will care. We will just order teh tarik and hang around for hours at the place to discuss the game."
Meanwhile, Ahmad Fairuz, a Holland supporter, said aside from being more affordable, watching football at mamak restaurants was always an occasion to spend time with friends.
"Only at such restaurants can we pull two, three tables together and watch a football match in a large group. It's also a great way to stay in touch with friends."
Another hot spot for football fans is Dataran Merdeka, which becomes a favourite during tournaments such as the World Cup and Euros.
Dataran Merdeka officials would set up a giant screen to host the match and fans from all walks of life would sit on the grass or road to watch the game together.
A Kuala Lumpur City Hall source guaranteed that this year, Dataran Merdeka would have screenings of the Euro tournament.
However, no official dates have been released yet.
Meanwhile, restaurants such as Asia Cafe in Subang Jaya, near here, have gone the extra mile to ensure that their customers-cum-football fans are satisfied.
"For the upcoming Euro 2012, we installed four big screens and 15 LCD television sets so that all our customers can watch the game," said Asia Cafe general manager Raymond Khoo.
"We can accommodate up to 3,000 people at any one time and we are expecting a full house from the quarter-finals to final."