No sex - we're Costa Rican

FOOTBALL AROUND THE WORLD

Costa Rica

's national squad have been banned from having sex until after their current round of World Cup qualifiers.

"I need all the players in full possession of their physical and mental faculties for the games against Mexico and the United States," said the team's Argentinian coach, Horacio Cordero, who imposed the ban on his squad of 19.

The players complained the sex ban was an invasion of their private lives, although some reluctantly accepted the coach's decision.

"Sex is normal and natural and from my point of view does not negatively affect the performance of an athlete," Oscar Ramirez, a player from 's squad that went to the World Cup finals in Italy in 1990, said, adding that he and his wife had sex two or three times a week despite his having matches on Sundays and in midweek.

and Mexico meet on Sunday in a World Cup qualifier. Cordero said the sex ban would continue until 's final qualifier on 23 March against the United States.

Whatever method of preparation 's players used prior to last Sunday's friendly against Cameroon in San Jose, it worked. They won 5- 0 with Paulo Cesar Wanchope, who is joining Derby County, hitting a hat- trick. The match kicked off 45 minutes late after frantic negotiations to prevent Cameroon's players taking strike action in a dispute over payments.

Spain

Jesus Gil y Gil, the outspoken president of Atletico Madrid, has been in the news again. He threatened to withdraw his club from the Spanish Cup before Wednesday's quarter-final second leg at Barcelona unless the Spanish football federation annulled suspensions imposed on three Atletico players, Juan Eduardo Esnaider, Diego Simeone and Delfi Geli.

All three players had been banned after various offences against Real Betis in a League game last weekend. Never one to understate his case, Gil called the bans "the greatest outrage in the history of Spanish football" on Tuesday, when he said his team would not play. However, Gil backed down the following day and ordered Atletico to travel to Barcelona.

Gil watched Milinko Pantic, Atletico's Serbian striker, score four goals - but still finish on the losing side. With Ronaldo hitting a hat-trick, Barcelona won 5-4 for a 7-6 aggregate victory.

Austria

Admira Wacker had last Saturday's 1-1 Austrian League draw with FC Linz changed to a 3-0 defeat by the Austrian football federation on Monday because they had substituted too many players. Admira's coach, Kurt Garger, said he thought three outfield players plus the goalkeeper could be replaced, but Austrian rules say only three changes including a replacement keeper can be made in a League game. The infringement went unnoticed by the referee, Stefan Messner. Admira are now two points adrift at the bottom of the table.

Brazil

Paulo Mata, the coach of the Brazilian club, Itaperuna, was so incensed by the referee in a Rio de Janeiro championship match against Vasco da Gama on Wednesday that he ran on the pitch, dropped his trousers and bared his buttocks. Vasco won 3-2 with a late goal which was offside, according to Itaperuna - who had three players sent off.

"I went naked because I'm tired of working honestly only to be scandalously robbed," Mata said. "Football in Rio de Janeiro is a disgrace."

Rupert Metcalf

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