Chinese food off limits for players in FIFA Women’s World Cup


New Delhi : Sampling local cuisine is pretty high on the agenda for visitors to foreign lands. Spare a thought then for the players taking part in the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup in China. For them the gourmet pleasures of Chinese food are strictly off limits.

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To maintain performance levels on the pitch, footballers need to keep a very close eye on what they eat away from it. Drastic changes in diet are not recommended, which is why most players in the tournament are unable to dip into the vast array of delightful dishes that China has to offer, writes, the world football governing body official website.

The US squad took no risks with their diet, forwarding specially drawn up menus to the hotels where they would be staying months in advance of their arrival in China.

England have their own chef with them to supervise everything that goes on in the kitchens. Not to be outdone, defending champions Germany have a trusted Chinese chef monitoring what is served on their plates.

The holders came across their culinary overseer when they travelled to China at the beginning of the year for a four-nation tournament. And by a strange quirk of fate, his usual line of work is knocking out traditional specialities in Beijing’s German restaurants. So there is no danger of the German squad feeling homesick when they sit down for dinner.

For their part, Brazil seem reluctant to try out the local delicacies. “They eat everything here – snakes, turtles, frogs,” said Brazilian player Marta a little uneasily.

It is a feeling obviously shared by her team-mates, who have told team officials that such exotic delights are definitely off the menu.

“The hotel staff are going to great lengths to make sure everything is just right here,” explained Brazil coach Jorge Barcellos. “The food is different, but we’re getting used to it.”

Like their South American rivals, Argentina have been unwilling to experiment too much, restricting themselves to the various rice dishes served in the hotel buffet.

As for Norway, they gave themselves a little treat before their decisive clash with Brazil: a team dinner at McDonald’s.

One thing the teams are all agreed on is the superb service they are receiving from the staff in their various hotels.

“The people of Chengdu have been so good to us,” said US coach Greg Ryan.

“I’m having a job getting used to the spicy food though,” he added, which perhaps explains why the team packed numerous bags of cookies and jars of peanut butter for players not tempted by the local meat dishes.

“I have to say we were a little worried about the food before we came,” admitted Canada forward Christine Sinclair, “but they have treated us so well in Hangzhou.

“We don’t have a chef with us, but we do have a nutritionist who tells the hotel what we want. They do a great job cooking in the North American style, in the way that we’re used to. There’s also a Starbucks right outside the door. Now that’s something we would have really missed.”

The advent of globalisation has made sure the ladies do not miss their home comforts and, as the competition enters its decisive phase, the question of what they eat becomes even more important.

Even so, locals hope the players sample at least some of the delights Chinese cuisine has to offer before they finally head home.