World-class soccer can be played, apparently, two ways: with or without wives.
Some coaches believe their players, when training, are better off if their families are with them. Other coaches view wives and girlfriends -- all women, for that matter -- as unnecessary distractions.
Among the teams here that have permitted wives and girlfriends to be with their players are Brazil, Denmark, Spain, France and Belgium. Among the teams that have said no are Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, England and the Soviet Union.
Hungary Coach Gyoergi Mezey said he did not want players' wives around "because sex weakens the legs." Italy Coach Enzo Bearzot said sex was not the major issue in his ban: "I don't allow women in camp because I don't want to have to argue with 44 people instead of 22."
In 1982, officials of the Spanish team forbade females in camp because the team doctor contended that women destroy the bond between players. But this year, Coach Miguel Munoz, saying, "It's not good that the players live in a manner that's different from what is habitual," permitted the women in training camp here.
Spanish midfielder Ramon Caldere said, "No one can imagine how my wife Josefina can help me. She's capable of changing my moods and making me think."
France Coach Henri Michel explained why he believes players should be allowed to see whom they want and drink what they want: "If a team performs well on the field and its games level does not change, the coach has to respect their private lives . . . "
Columnist Rob Hughes, writing in the International Herald Tribune, recalled Brazil Coach Joao Saldanha's liberal policy with his 1970 team. Saldanha told Hughes, "I wasn't their nurse, camp wasn't a nunnery and my responsibility was what they did with the ball."
Saldanha had only one rule -- never change female partners in the middle of the week, only on Mondays. Saldanha imposed that restriction because he thought a switch in partners created emotional problems.
Whatever the approach to the opposite sex, it seems the best players win. Argentina took the 1978 Cup after being cloistered in a monastery. And Brazil won the 1970 Cup under Saldanha's liberal rules.
Diego Lucero of Argentina, reportedly the only journalist to have seen all 13 World Cups, recently recalled the first Cup final, on July 30, 1930, in Montevideo, Uruguay, when Uruguay beat Argentina, 4-2:
"That match was so different . . . It was open soccer, not like today's, where everybody is over the ball. Those were great soccer players."
"Both teams wanted to play with their own ball. The Uruguayan ball was English and had more bounce than the Argentine ball. The referee solved the problem . . . he took both balls and decided to play with them, one per each half.
"Argentina was winning, 2-1, after the first half. The Uruguayan ball was used in the second half. Uruguay won after scoring three more goals."
Josimar, a last-minute addition to Brazil's World Cup team, has become an even bigger hero back home. He is from one of the poorer sections of Rio de Janeiro, and the right fullback's play in this tournament, including two goals, has been celebrated with fireworks and samba music in the hillside slums.
According to one wire-service report, Josimar's father became so excited when the 25-year-old scored against Northern Ireland "that he jumped out of his chair and hit his head on the low, tin ceiling of his shantytown shack."