Apparently, one in two UK employers are planning on offering flexible working options during the World Cup. In other words, staff can take an afternoon off to watch the game as long as they make up the hours throughout the rest of the week. This is a pretty perfect option - the work gets done, and your employees get the best of both worlds.
If you're partial to a spot of footie yourself, then hire a big screen or projector, or just drag in next door's TV, and gather round to watch the match - amply supplied with beer and snacks, obviously. It'll be much cheaper than taking everyone out for a social night, and it'll make the team feel valued.
There's no point any of you beating around the bush - if you have football fans on your team, they're going to try to watch football matches. So if the two options above don't appeal to you, lay out a few guidelines before everyone gets stuck in on their own terms. Explain how sympathetic you're going to be to hangovers after matches and offer people holiday days if you don't want to screen the games at work.
Note: this is a brilliant opportunity to show your team you value them and you're not as tyrannical as bigger companies, so use it to your advantage by being kindly to the sport-obsessed, rather than coming down on them like a ton of bricks. Your working environment will be significantly happier and more productive if you're understanding.
NatWest, good people that they are, are actually hosting a free webinar on this very subject next Wednesday, June 9, at 2:15 pm. Nick Soret, NatWest's head of employment law consultancy support, will help you figure out the best way to make it through the World Cup. Register here to ask him all and any questions you might have about managing your team during the weeks ahead and creating a strategy that keeps the business productive without punishing football-fanaticism.