Soccer Stars Sleeping In Altitude Tents To Prep For World Cup

Outside of America, soccer is taken quite seriously. So seriously, it turns out, that members of England's national team will soon sleep in oxygen-deprivation tents to prepare for their high-altitude matches at the upcoming World Cup in South Africa.

The players are subjected to a variety of creepy tests at the team's Hertfordshire "hotel", which basically sounds like that facility where Drago trained in Rocky IV. That's fitting, though, because I've always imagined the US national team preparing for the World Cup by getting together at a cabin and heaving some big logs around.

At the facility, England's players ride exercise bikes with masks that limit the amount of oxygen they can breath. Those who huff and puff a little too hard will have the oxygen-deprivation tents delivered to their homes, so they can gradually acclimatise their bodies to low-oxygen, high-altitude conditions. Matches at this summer's World Cup will take place at heights of up to 5000 feet (1524m) above sea level, and the tents can precisely match that altitude with a hypoxic pump that flushes 100 litres of air through the tent every minute.

Professionally handsome footballer David Beckham slept in one such tent before the 2002 World Cup to help heal a broken foot, and the World Anti-Doping Agency considered whether or not to ban the practice for giving teams an unfair advantage. They didn't rule against the tents, and now, somewhere in England, Wayne Rooney is complaining about this being the worst camping trip ever. [Daily Mail via PopSci]