Another World Cup has come and gone, and diehard soccer fans will have to wait another four years until their national teams will have another chance for glory. While many of the successful teams in the tournament depended heavily on star players such as Argentina’s Messi or Portugal’s Ronaldo, it’s undeniable that the all-around teamwork of Germany was instrumental in their first-place finish. Another possible contributing factor to their victory was…sex?!

As both English and Japanese-language news agencies have reported, all the teams participating in the Cup had different policies regarding their players and sexual intercourse during the tournament. Furthermore, all of the teams that advanced to the quarterfinals had policies that allowed sex, while all of the teams which specifically forbade sex during the tournament were eliminated in the group stage or the round of 16.

Funnily enough, the German team was one of the groups that allowed its players to engage in some adult fun during down time…

Is sex beneficial or detrimental to elite athletes before a big match?

Although several major news agencies such as Time have run articles on the subject, the bottom line seems to be that research on the topic is still inconclusive, but may indicate that sex is not as harmful to athletic performance as once thought. According to Reuters, research indicates that sex up to two hours prior to an athletic performance does not negatively affect high-level athletes. An average bout of sex burns only 25-40 calories, which should not interfere with their athleticism. Researchers at Canada’s McGill University have even said that athletes should relax with sex if they are anxious before a big game.

On the flip side, exercise physiology scientists at Italy’s University of L’Aquila have found that male athletes who did not have sex for three months experienced a radical drop in their testosterone levels. Further research, including the psychological effects of either restricting or allowing athletes’ sexual activity before a sporting event, is needed to obtain more conclusive results.

▼Also needed: a study about World Cup success and kanji tattoo fails.

4Twitter – @bourbonne_campy

Professional athletes themselves have differing opinions on the matter as well. Legendary boxer Muhammed Ali, for example, abstained from sex for six weeks before a fight for fear that his testosterone levels would drop too much. On the other hand, Romário, a former Brazilian footballer and star of the 1994 World Cup, has explicitly stated: “When I have sex before a game, I make good plays.” The late Sócrates, another former player for Brazil, has similarly said that “if I have sex on the night before a game, and the morning after, I can get extraordinary results.” Hmm.

▼No word on the street about how this Socrates felt on the matter.

5Wikipedia – Geni

Moving on now, all 32 teams that took part in this year’s World Cup had different policies regarding their players and sexual activity during the tournament. Some teams explicitly allowed or banned the act, while others set specific rules depending on the circumstances. A fair number of teams also reported no policy at all. However, it is interesting to note that all eight teams that advanced to the quarterfinals allowed their players the liberty of having sex with their partners, while all teams that restricted sex were eliminated before the quarterfinals. On top of that (no pun intended), two of the top three finishers (Germany and Netherlands) were part of the faction that were free to do as they pleased. Argentina, meanwhile, never released an official policy concerning their take on the matter.

Perhaps a little visual representation will help. One writer from digital news outlet Quartz created a handy chart to categorize the 32 teams of the 2014 World Cup into four groups according to their policies on sex. You can see the criteria used to classify the teams into the four different categories here.

▼The chart as of July 2


As you can see, nine countries explicitly allowed their players to have sex during the tournament, while four countries explicitly banned intercourse. Five countries had slightly more complicated policies that either allowed or restricted sex during specific time frames. The remaining 14 teams had unspecified policies.

Upon further inspection, you may see that of the eight teams which advanced to the quarterfinals, two of them were from the “Sex is allowed” group (Germany, Netherlands), four were from the “It’s complicated” group (Belgium, France, Brazil, Costa Rica), and two were from the “Policy is unknown” group (Argentina, Colombia), leaving ZERO from the “Sex is banned” group. Coincidence?

Here are some of the “It’s complicated” policies. further broken down by country:

Belgium: Sex is forbidden for the first three weeks of the tournament.

France: Sex is allowed to let the players relax, but limitations are in place on the frequency and times of sex.

Brazil: Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has stated that his players are allowed to engage in normal sexual behavior, but no “acrobatic sex.” You can interpret that how you like.

Costa Rica: The ban on sex is to be lifted after the preliminaries.

Nigeria: Players are allowed to have sex with wives, but not girlfriends.

▼Acrobatics: potentially hazardous to your health and performance on the pitch

1 Royal Faires

Furthermore, here is some information regarding two of the teams for which sex was expressly forbidden:

Mexico: According to the Mexican coach, players who can’t abstain for a month should be removed from professional play. He also encouraged them to wear underpants in bed. Of course, Mexico was eliminated in the first round of the knock-out tournament…

Bosnia & Herzegovina: Interestingly, while sexual intercourse is not allowed, masturbation is. It makes you wonder whether there’s really a difference or not, right? By the way, this team was eliminated during the group stage.

Regardless of individual team policies, more research in the area is clearly needed before we can get a more definitive answer. Do any of our scientist readers out there feeling like taking on the job?

Sources: Sankei News West, Quartz 1, 2, Reuters, Time Digital
Top image: YouTube