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June 26, 2014

SOCCER: From Mercedes to Mobile, state pauses for World Cup

VANCE, Ala. — German and American workers at a Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama ditched their corporate gear and wore their national colors Thursday as the two countries met in World Cup soccer.

Dozens of employees who normally wear uniforms with the company's familiar three-point star donned red, white and blue T-shirts or German jerseys to show their allegiance.

David Reeves, a group leader on the C-Class assembly line, said the "spirit day" was similar to special days the company holds in the fall during college football season.

"Today's a special day with U.S. vs. Germany in the soccer match, and working for a German company we wanted to inspire a little bit of friendly rivalry between some of the folks to show your support for your home team and show your patriotism as well," he said.

While some German employees at the plant about 35 miles southwest of Birmingham took their lunch break at restaurants or a nearby hotel to watch the game on television, most of the Americans kept working. No one on the assembly line was watching the game on hand-held devices, though.

"That is a big no no," said Reeves. "No cellphones allowed anywhere close to a process building."

Elsewhere, dozens of fans jammed a pub in Mobile to watch the game, which the United States lost 1-0, and the AlabamaGermany Partnership held a game-watching party in Birmingham. German brautwurst and beer were on the menu, but so were soft drinks for people who had to get back to work after the midday match.

The AlabamaGermany Partnership promotes strong relations and trade between the two countries.

Both the German and U.S. teams have advanced to the knockout stage of the World Cup.

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