MOSCOW — The world’s oldest "athletic activity" is a definite part of the World Cup, but whether a soccer star gets lucky during the tournament all depends on his team’s policy regarding sexual relations.
There are wildly differing schools of thoughts on whether late-night cardio sessions with a partner are beneficial or harmful to a player’s hopes of success on the field and the rules laid down by the participating nations are a source of fascination for fans.
Sex expert Dr. Lauren Streicher said that sex during the World Cup could only be a good thing for players, with a couple of caveats.
"Research shows that sexual activity has no bearing on athletic performance whatsoever," Dr. Streicher, medical director of Northwestern University's Center for Sexual Health and the Center for Menopause, told USA TODAY Sports. "The effect on performance comes if the sex is preceded by alcohol, which it often is, or if it leads to a lack of sleep. So basically, for the players, don't drink beforehand, and don't do it all night."
Some coaches are happy to talk about it, while others are only willing to only discuss scoring on the field. Using a combination of media reports, player and staff comments, revelations from wives and girlfriends and past experience, we have gotten a good gauge on what 19 of the 32 nations are up to when they’re not on your television screens.
It ranges from the helpful – Argentina’s soccer federation prepared a document for its players that included information on how to pick up Russian women – to utterly prohibitive, with Germany head coach Joachim Low forbidding his players from any bedroom gymnastics whatsoever.
Iceland head coach Heimar Hallgrimsson denied that he had imposed a sex ban on his players, but did insist that any action must be restricted to the squad’s wives and girlfriends.
“No, it’s not banned. That’s (expletive),” Hallgrimsson said, after captain Aron Gunnarsson joked that the players were celibate “for the time being.”
Nigeria’s Gernot Rohr ordered his team to steer clear of Russian women, which will presumably be a relief to one Russian politician, who asked her compatriots to refrain from sex with foreigners. However, Nigerian captain John Obi Mikel was exempted from Rohr’s restriction as he has a long-term Russian girlfriend and requested special permission.
“Yes, the players can have their wives and family come to visit them at the World Cup,” Rohr told Complete Sports. “Each player will have a room to himself so the family can come on days when we are not preparing for games or on match days. However, I won’t allow them to have Russian girls, no, no, no.”
Sometimes sex is a reward. Costa Rica was allowed to have their partners come and visit after reaching the round of 16 in 2014, while South Korea has been told by its federation that such a treat will only come in once the team is regularly reaching the knockout stages.
Germany’s total ban doesn’t seem to be working out too well for it so far, yet neither does Argentina’s carefree policy. Brazil, meanwhile, has a long history of enjoying the company of sexual partners during major events, so much so that national team legend Romario told present day star Gabriel Jesus to “get as much as possible” while in Russia.
Here's how 20 of the teams control their players’ night-time habits, or otherwise:
Germany – Sex is banned, along with alcohol and social media.
Nigeria – Wives and girlfriends allowed, but not Russian women – except for captain Mikel
Iceland – No sex ban, but long-term partners only.
Belgium – Partners invited to stay with team for two nights.
Panama – No sex during tournament.
Portugal – Rui Patricio’s sex therapist wife says “celibacy would be a mistake.”
England – Wives and girlfriends staying 30 minutes away from team. “Thank goodness for FaceTime,” says Jamie Vardy’s wife, Rebekah.
Uruguay – Sex was allowed during 2014 tournament.
Costa Rica – Rewarded with conjugal visits for making round of 16 in 2014.
South Korea – No meetings with loved ones until results improve.
Spain – Typically no ban on sex.
Brazil – Partners allowed at team base on certain days.
Argentina – Federation distributed controversial guide on how to pick up Russian women.
Mexico – Several players criticized for hosting a pre-event party with escorts.
Poland – Occasional contact with partners.
Denmark – Families and partners welcome.
Australia – Families welcome and even attended a training session.
Sweden – Wives and girlfriends stayed with team ahead of opening game.
Russia – Sex was banned in 2014, rumored to be more relaxed this time.