Bosnia national soccer team player Edin Dzeko takes part in a training session in Hrasnica, near Sarajevo, May 26, 2014, in preparation of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic (BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Bosnia national soccer team player Edin Dzekoand his teammates.
REUTERS

In April, Safet Susic, coach of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s national soccer team, reignited an age-old discussion: Does sex affect an athlete’s performance on the field?

Susic issued a sex-ban for his team ahead of this month’s World Cup, telling reporters, “There will be no sex in Brazil. They can find another solution, they can even masturbate if they want. I am not interested what the other coaches do, this is not a holiday trip, we are there to play football at the World Cup.”

Susic issued the edict in the name of “military discipline”, but was he right? Does sex have a negative impact on players like Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Edin Dzekoand (above) on the field?

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There have been studies trying to prove the theory, and in 2000, the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine examined 31 of them for an articletitled, “Does Sex the Night Before Competition Decrease Performance?” Based on that examination, the researchers concluded that, no, sex does not negatively affect athletic performance or even consume that much energy, burning only 25 to 50 calories. Aditionally, as fivethirtyeight.com points out, those studies examined only the physiological impact of sex, ignoring any emotional impacts, positive or negative. Does having sex make a player less anxious? Less aggressive?

Bosnia-Herzegovina’s players are not alone in being told to abstain from sex for the month or so they’re in the World Cup. Mexican national team coach Miguel Herrera told a Mexican newspaper, “If a player can’t go one month or 20 days without having sexual relations, then they are not prepared to be a professional player.” Brazil’s coach says “normal sex” is fine.

“Usually normal sex is done in balanced way,” says Luiz Felipe Scolari. “But there are certain forms, certain ways and others who do acrobatics. We will put limits and survey the players.”

As for the US? Coach Jurgen Klinsman says he won’t place a ban on his team’s sexual activities during the tournament, saying, “We are very casual in the way we approach things.”

h/t fivethirtyeight.com