Church of England scores a winner with World Cup prayers

THE Church of England said it had proved a hit with football fans seeking divine intervention to help England win the World Cup after putting a prayer for the team on its website.

The church said it had scored more than 4 000 hits on the prayers section of its Internet site after posting t

he prayer last month for the likes of England captain David Beckham and his teammates.

A Church of England spokesman said this represented a 28% surge in hits compared to the average of the previous four months.

“The church often provides specially written prayers to mark major national events, and the World Cup is no exception,” he said.

“After all, you don’t find many atheists during penalty shoot-outs.”

The prayer read: “Lord God, the source of all life and joy, recreation and skill, we pray for all involved in the World Cup, and especially for those who represent our nation. For good health for the players, for high standards of sportsmanship and fairness, and for the safety and well-being of all who will watch, that in our shared enjoyment of the game, we may rejoice in the one who came to bring life in all its fullness, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

England kick off their World Cup campaign against Paraguay in Frankfurt tomorrow.

In a related story, World Cup visitors can pray for divine intervention if their team is losing in special half-time religious services.

Two Berlin churches, the Berlin Cathedral and the Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church, will be holding 15-minute half-time services throughout the tournament.

The services will feature football related sermons and hymns that resemble team anthems allowing worshippers of the World Cup to pray for victory.

Bernhard Felmberg from the Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church said: “We don’t want to fight against the World Cup, we want to use it to support our message.”

l Meanwhile, English football fans watching World Cup matches on their office computer screens could cost their employers billions of pounds, according to a report.

The BBC has said its policy of making matches available live on the Internet “will allow people to do their job and keep up with the very latest action”, but analysts at Brabners Chaffe Street are not so sure about the “doing their job” part of that.

Their study reckons that if half of all British workers spend just one hour a day watching footie online, the British economy could find itself four billion pounds out of pocket.

That is without factoring in the number of days lost through workers calling in sick when they are hungover — though 80%  of managers have said, in another survey, that they are not going to tolerate such behaviour this year.

On the other hand, some businesses stand to make a tidy profit from English football mania — not least pubs.

Nearly one in four English people have said they plan to watch the games pint in hand.

According to a study by Mastercard, also published on Monday, fans in England — not including the ones who are actually travelling to Germany for the tournament — are likely to spend an average of £60 (87 euros) each every time England play.

Twenty-six of those pounds are set to go on gambling, but that still leaves 34, which break down as 13 on food and drink, five on transportation, and 12 on boozy celebration or sorrows-drowning, depending on the result.

On top of that, the survey says, the average supporter will spend £55 (80 euros) on the various bits of paraphernalia needed to demonstrate their allegiance to the team: from huge St George Cross flags to commemorative T-shirts, not forgetting stickers and other souvenir products, including stamps from the Post Office’s world cup commemorative range. —AP/ Reuter.