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‘We had no choice’: England fan says she ‘had no sympathy’ during firing for pulling sickie before cameras caught her at Wembley

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A football fan who was axed from her job after bosses saw her on TV celebrating during England’s win over Denmark at Euro 2020 has admitted she would “do it all over again”, while her bosses have said they had “no choice”.

Nina Farooqi, who hails from Bradford in West Yorkshire, dodged her responsibilities at a decking and cladding company after her friend struck lucky and bagged last-minute tickets for the semifinal as part of a work raffle.

The 37-year-old was worried her boss would not give her the day off to head to the capital as the firm was short-staffed, and therefore made the decision to ring in sick and hop on a lunchtime train to London Kings Cross from Leeds.

As Farooqi, who was captured behind the goal and even appeared on the Instagram story of a popular British TV presenter, prepared to catch the 6am train up north the following morning after England had reached the final, her boss contacted his former employee and told her not to come in.

“It’s an exciting time for everyone in England and, given the opportunity, we would have encouraged attendance at such an important football match,” explained company director Charles Taylor, explaining the move to the Daily Mail.

“Unfortunately, on this occasion, our employee lied, taking one day off sick to attend the football match on Wednesday July 7.

“This was in breach of her employment contract and so we had no choice but to take the appropriate action.

“As a business, we value honesty and integrity and we don’t tolerate any employee taking advantage of our policies.

“Like many businesses will be doing across the county, our staff will be having Monday morning off to hopefully recover from celebrating an England win [in the final on Sunday].”

Farooqi claimed she had been up front with her ex-employers. “They said they’d seen I’d been at the game, and I was honest about why I did it,” she told the Daily Telegraph.

“But I didn’t get any sympathy at all and they said ‘that’s it’. That’s their call and the consequence of what I did.

“There is a bit of regret – no-one wants to get fired – but then also I would have hated the regret of missing out. I’d do it all over again.”  

According to her LinkedIn profile, Farooqi has a series of freelance jobs.

“It’s mixed emotions: we’re through to the final, I’m still on that high, but I’ve also lost my job,” she added.

Explaining that there was “no way” she’d turn down the chance to attend the match with her friend who won the work raffle, the passionate women’s football photographer continued: “This hasn’t come around since [Euro] 1996.

“I vividly remember crying on my mum’s sofa when Gareth Southgate missed his penalty [in a semifinal defeat to Germany in 1996], and the football fan in me just couldn’t do it. Football is my life.”

In a touching development, though, Farooqi’s loss of earnings may soon be made up by the new freelance work she appears to have been offered after the women’s football community rallied round her.

“Bless her heart – football seems to be her lifelong passion,” said one sympathizer.

“Nina Farooqi, you go girl – jobs come and go, people who have a passion are extremely lucky. Hope all this exposure gets you something better.”

An online fundraising page appeared to have been set up for Farooqi as news of her experience was shared by national news outlets.

“She ‘pulled a sickie’ to watch England’s semi-final win at Wembley and was sacked after her boss saw her celebrating on TV,” it said, initally targeting £1,000 (around $1,385).

“Let’s help Nina support herself after losing her job, in the same way she supported the lads last Wednesday. It’s coming home.”

With a bit of luck, she may even have some tickets for the final against Italy on Sunday come her way, too.

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