Could abstinence be the formula to win the World Cup?

Some coaches are supporters to apply certain regimes to their groups related to food, alcohol, entertainment, and fun

Could abstinence be the card to win the World Cup?

In the world of sport, there are many controversies. One of them is recurrent when it comes to mass events like the World Cup, the Olympic Games, the Pan American Games, the European Championship, and the Copa America, to name a few. The question is: Does it affect athletes performance to consume certain foods or have fun as an ordinary person would? There is precisely where the problem lies because the opinions on it are divided.

Leer en español: ¿Podría ser la abstinencia la carta para ganar el Mundial?

We are only hours away from starting the World Cup in Russia and this discussion is not new. At the end of May, the coach of the champion team in Brazil, Joachim Löw, told the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport the rules that his players would have to follow towards the World Cup. Among them are prohibitions on the use of social networks and sexual intercourse.

It is evident that there are things that do affect the performance of an athlete, in this case of soccer players, such as consuming high-calorie foods, drinking alcohol, staying at parties or browsing the Internet. Like any person, these habits generate fatigue, stress and poor physical condition, especially in the days leading up to a game or a tournament of the importance of the World Cup. Other habits are more difficult to prohibit and some even become eccentric, sex is one of them. Each technician has a different strategy to prepare his team for the World Cup, which is why some of them totally prohibit it, others prohibit it only partially and others have no restrictions in this respect. In the end, what matters most to a coach is that his team perform enough to achieve their goals.

Why the prohibitions of a coach?

There are two main reasons: the first is because of the myth that sexual activity decreases players performance. According to the Peruvian newspaper La República, the sexologist Vera Ribeiro, wife of the Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio, recommends that players remain sexually active, as this allows them to manage their anxiety levels and does not affect their physical condition. On the contrary, it allows them to increase their performance. However, the truth is that some coaches are still cautious. Löw has banned it outright, said the media La Republica, and being the world's technical champion is not easy to contradict his argument.

The second reason is simpler, but not less important: the image of the team. It is not a good idea for a team focused on the World Cup to be distracted and there are not few scandals in this sport due to this situation. The immediate example is that of the Mexican players selected who have been harshly criticized within 15 days of the beginning of the tournament, according to the Spanish newspaper El Periódico. For federations, it is not a simple subject to deal with, mainly because of the issue of sanctions.

Does this regime work?

In Brazil 2014, the then Brazilian coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, also known as Felipão, allowed his players to have sex, and although it is not possible to blame to this habit, the Brazilians had a disappointing World Cup, being humiliated by Germany in the semifinals. For Russia 2018, El Periódico has announced that the current Brazilian coach 'Tite' ordered 3 days off to the players with their families throughout the tournament.

For his part, Miguel Herrera, a coach from Mexico in 2014, banned his players to have sex. However, the result in the tournament was within what has been a tradition in recent years: eighth-finals, this time being eliminated by the Netherlands. By 2018, Juan Carlos Osorio has not spoken about it.

Argentina, the selection of Jorge Sampaoli, does not have any public prohibition, although it did in the last World when he was leading Chile. The austral team of 2014 did a great tournament, in addition to the two Copa America that won later. The peculiar thing of this 2018 was the manual of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) for Argentine players on how to behave in Russia. This generated controversy with the part that alludes to how to "conquer" Russian women during the event. Between prohibitions, scandals, pressure, and adrenaline, the teams arrive in Russia; but despite this, players always find ways to have fun with or without their families and with or without the permission of their coaches.


Latin American Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio

Translated from "¿Podría ser la abstinencia la carta para ganar el Mundial?"

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