10 of the strangest food bans that sports teams have imposed
Let's face it: in order to be a high-profile athlete you've got to eat like a high-profile athlete. It's why we blame the brunt of our failed career as professional footballers on late-night kebabs.
The post-game pint has been replaced by the post-game protein shake, with the diet of athletes in numerous sports being under constant scrutiny from coaches and managers alike. Whilst sports nutrition plays a vital part of any decent sports manager's game plan, we certainly don't envy the poor chap whose job it is to inform a superstar athlete that they can't eat their favourite food. Especially when said athletes are usually strapping, strong, and prone to the occasional hissy fit.
Banning a team from eating a certain item of food has often been met with a less-than stellar response. Here are 10 of the strangest food bans that sports teams have felt fit to impose over the years.
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. That's just the way the cookie crumbles. At least, for some. Sri Lankan cricketers have recently been barred from eating biscuits in the dressing room. The ban was introduced following the team's successive defeats to Zimbabwe and India.
After the Sri Lankan government had previously issued an ultimatum to the team to get fit or be dropped ahead of the games, the staff in charge were forced to take matters into their own hands to remove the biscuits blamed for making the Sri Lankan players overweight.
The issue of the players's weight first arose after the Sri Lankan sports minister critcised the team for sporting more than a few impressive biscuit bellies. Perhaps the greatest thing to come out of this whole digestive debacle was the response that Sri Lankan bowler Lasith Malinga had for the sports minister's comments, brazenly exclaiming: “What does a monkey know about a parrot’s nesting hollow?” The next time someone tells us we need to lose a bit of weight we intend to give the exact same response.
Everyone loves pizza. It's a food that's beloved almost universally in just about every country. As such, banning pizza comes across as a pretty bold move. No stranger to being bald, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola supposedly banned his players from eating this delicious Italian delicacy during the 2016 season.
In spite of the fact that Claudio Ranieri successfully used the dish to motivate his players to the league title the year before, Guardiola felt that a diet heavy with fattening foods such as pizza would limit the on-field performance of his team. We're not sure about you but we'd definitely prefer a manager who wasn't afraid of throwing a pizza party or two.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches and the NBA go together like...well, Peanut Butter & Jelly. The overwhelming sandwich of choice for nearly every professional basketball player, a genuine uproar was created within the dressing room of the Golden State Warriors after the sandwich was excluded from the team's menu.
A staple of the training table in Golden State’s locker room before games, these simple sandwiches were even popular with the coaches and executives as well as the players. Deemed by the strength and conditioning staff to be an unneccessary confection, it took the insistence of the entire team as well as the pull of influential figures like the Warrior's assistant head coach Luke Walton to get the sandwiches back in rotation. This PB&J revolution proves that people power can sometimes work. It also goes to prove the old adage of "if it ain't broke, don't take away it's peanut butter".
Ah, Giovanni Trapattoni. Perhaps the most successful club coach to ever grace Serie A, we'd be hard pressed to disagree with the Italian tactical genius on anything. Anything, that is, except food.
Despite generally being considered one of the all-time greats, it was Trapattoni's dislike of a certain fungus that Irish fans will likely best remember him for. As manager of the Republic of Ireland international team it was Trapattoni's job to make sure his players were in peak shape and able to deliver the best performances on the field as possible. For a reason that still remains a mystery to many, Trapattoni considered mushrooms to be a great hindrance to this.
"I saw the players eating mushrooms before a friendly, and I was stunned into silence for several seconds. I then told them that mushrooms are banned on matchdays -- both for breakfast and for dinner" disclosed Trapattoni to an Italian newspaper in 2008. We understand that mushrooms are one of those love 'em or hate 'em sorts of food, but surely that's taking things a little too far, Giovanni?
Ice in Coke
From one Italian football manager to another, Paolo Di Canio was another manager who seemed to have very specific views on what his players were and weren't allowed to consume in the build-up leading to a game. Considering mobile phones and pre-match singing to be a distraction, the then-Sunderland manager also had a bone to pick with those who had ice with their Coca Cola.
Whilst he wasn't the biggest fan of the beverage itself, Di Canio found the combination of ice and coke to be of special concern. The eccentric Italian even went as far as to say: “They can cause chemical problems to the liver, to the stomach. If you have ice with coke you can have indigestion. I know players who’ve had ice with their coke the night before a game and then couldn’t play." We've heard of eschewing ice with coke because it does little more than water down and dilute the beverage's flavour, but doing it to avoid indigestion? That's a new one to us.
French cuisine is simply fantastic. From Coquilles Saint-Jacques to Poulet Basquaise, there's an air of sophistication to French cooking that's hard to find in any other culture. Scottish cuisine on the other hand is more of an acquired taste. When your country's most famous dish involves a sheep's stomach, lungs, and liver - it's fairly safe to say that you're considered less of a culinary mainstay.
A monstrous clash between these two disparate food cultures occurred after Scottish side Ibrox's French manager Paul Le Guen placed the savoury snack Monster Munch on a list of foods banned at the club.
Upsetting a number of the club's players, including ex-Rangers captain Barry Ferguson, over what was deemed to be a petty point of argument, it wasn't long after crispgate that Le Guen departed from Ibrox for good. To quote Ferguson the issue: "no-one is going to tell me a packet of pickled onion now and again is going to take years off your career. It’s nonsense." We have to agree, Barry.
Ketchup really does seem like a rather odd thing for a football manager to ban. The iconic red condiment is hardly good for you, but surely no active sportsman is capable of consuming so much of the stuff that it has a negative affect on their sporting performance? Well, Chelsea's Antonio Conte would disagree.
Alongside brown sauce, carbonated beverages, and pizza - Conte has singled out ketchup as unneccesary part of the diet of his players. Although we'd argue it can't be making all that much difference, Chelsea's success as champions of the 2016/17 Barclay's Premier League season would suggest that the fiery Italian may be on to something. Perhaps if we put away the ketchup and just start started eating our chips plain we'll become maestros of the games ourselves.
Taking place in the build-up to the 2012 Olympic Games, China's national team athletes heading to London were ordered to stop eating meat, due to fears that they might accidentally consume the banned substance clenbuterol. Protein is obviously an essential part of any athlete's diet, so the Chinese team must have had pretty good reason for banning the consumption of many forms of it altogether. It turns out they did.
After Chinese Olympic judo champion Tong Wen was slapped with a two-year ban for having traces of the prohibited performance-enhancing substance Clenbuterol in her bloodstream, research found that the banned substance - which is given to livestock in order to bulk them up - was found in pork products that were being raised and prepared exclusively for athletes. Oops.
As a result, the administration issued an urgent order banning athletes from eating pork, beef or lamb outside. When dining out, the athletes were only allowed to eat fish and chicken. All in all it could have been worse. At least they still got to eat pizza.
Chips are an incredibly popular food. David Moyes is an incredibly unpopular manager. The secret to becoming such an incredibly unpopular manager is seemingly to go about banning an incredibly popular food.
Afraid that his Manchester United players were overweight and unfit, David Moyes banned chips during his tenure at the club. Following the footsteps of Alex Ferguson was hardly an easy ask for the Scotsman, however, he certainly didn't endear himself to his squad by getting rid of one of their favourite snacks.
Whilst the ban itself doesn't seem all that surprising - chips are hardly the pinnacle of health - the reason Moyes came under such intense fire was for ending the club's long-standing pre-match ritual of having low-fat chips on the evening before games. Having recently reluctantly resigned as Sunderland's manager, it would appear that Moyes is spreading his anti-chip brigade across the United Kingdom to very little fanfare.
This ban might not seem too out of this world when considering the meticulous man-managing of modern football, however, back in 1996 the thought of a football manager telling his players what they could and could not eat would have been seen as mad.
Before his first game in charge, it was none other than Arsene Wenger who banned his Arsenal team from eating chocolate confectionaries such as Mars Bars. A stickler for the fine-details, Wenger's banning of the bar actually provoked outrage from the squad, leading to some of the players chanting "we want out Mars bars!" from the back of the team bus. The first manager to really pay attention to the diet of his players, Wenger's success can hardly be denied. However, considering the manager's wavering popularity in recent years, maybe it's best he let them have their Mars Bars back...