Capital readies for World Cup, work or no

Washington is expected to grind to a halt at about 4 p.m. Tuesday when the U.S. Men's Soccer Team takes the field in Brazil to play Belgium.

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It’s a safe bet that TVs across the city will be tuned in, as the Washington region has been watching more of the World Cup than any other market in the country, according to ESPN.

Much of the federal government is likely to sneak away from work early. Those congressional staff, office workers and journalists stuck at their computers will be looking to catch glimpses of the game on their screens.

The website Quartz reported that during the U.S. match against Germany last Thursday, the number of U.S.-based conference calls hosted by the service InterCall declined 7 percent. In the last moments of the game, it was down 11 percent.

President Obama opened his Cabinet meeting Tuesday morning by noting it wouldn’t have worked in the afternoon. “I thought I’d get the Cabinet together this morning because we all know that America will be busy this afternoon. Go, Team USA,” he said.

For Thursday's game, Obama was one of the Americans watching the match during working hours, though he multitasked by watching on Air Force One on the way to events in Minnesota.

“We had elements — which I won’t detail — of our foreign policy that have been shaped around the World Cup,” Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who sat next to him at a table filled with goodies, watching the match.

Secretary of State John Kerry is one of the officials most likely to watch the match. He played varsity soccer at Yale and often kicks the ball around during breaks on his travels around the world.

Kerry is in Panama for the inauguration of a new president, but he tweeted Monday that he packed his team jersey.

A State Department spokesman said Kerry is “hoping to catch the end of the game on his return flight this afternoon.”

Unlike last week, Congress is now out of town, which could make it easier for some members to watch.

For last Thursday’s match, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) tweeted the stock excuse note signed by U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann with the message, “What do you say @SpeakerBoehner? Just this once for the #USMNT, I promise.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) also found a way to watch, tweeting that he “convened an important staff meeting,” along with a picture of his staff watching the game.

Murphy is already getting pumped up for this game.

 

 

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) took pride in the Waffle House chain’s call for a boycott of Belgian Waffles in solidarity with the U.S. team: 

 

The Belgian embassy in Washington had invited the public to a watch party at the National Portrait Gallery and encouraged Americans to eat Belgian waffles before the match.

Another option is finding a way to link the World Cup to work. The Discover America Partnership, a travel industry group, is holding an event on expanding visa waivers at a Capitol Hill bar Tuesday afternoon, followed by watching the match.

“As the U.S. advances to the next round of the World Cup, we have an opportunity to win a different kind of 'golden goal' — winning over international travelers who support local economies and create thousands of jobs,” the invitation to the gathering states.

Some of those on the lookout for free food during the game might have to look elsewhere, though. The invitation warns: “No interns please.”

Megan Wilson and Justin Sink contributed.

Ths story was posted at 11:21 a.m. and was updated at 1:18 p.m.