Almanack: Swiss score twice

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TO THE delight of continental tabloids, the Swiss football team's coach Roy Hodgson has relaxed the sex ban on his players for the World Cup finals. But his players and their wives and girlfriends are only in a state of modified rapture: they will be allowed two brief conjugal visits: on 18 June after the team's match against the United States, and on 26 June after their game against Colombia.

'Roy's Boys Can Do It Twice,' triumphed a headline in Blick, which had criticised the celibacy order. The original ban had produced such classics as 'No Sex Please, We're Swiss', and 'No Sex Please, The Manager's British'.

The debate over sex and sport is years old and will probably never be resolved. Some killjoy pundits insist that sex saps the energy and should be discouraged during important tournaments; others claim that satiated footballers play better.

Pele said recently that late nights and lack of sleep were to blame for poor performance rather than sex; George Best always claimed that pre-match indulgence was harmless. Italy's former head coach, Azeglio Vicini, tried to enforce abstinence on his players in 1990. Arrigo Sacchi, Vicini's successor, is looking to improve on their third-place finish: he is not considering a similar ban this year.