Voodoo which can also be described as juju in Africa has been known to exist for ages within the African continent. It can also be described as Black magic and is very popular in the Caribbean. Voodoo is closely linked with evil spirits and other associated demonic agents. Voodoo has gained so much popularity that it is secretly practiced in the middle east, Asia, Europe, and America.
Its history can be traced to the 16th century, with so many variations to its practice in several countries, which has created a lot of variation in its mood of operation. The emphasis, however, has always been the ability to use Black magic to manipulate the outcome of events and create fear in the heart of those who cross paths with its devotees.
Football has always been a game that is globally watched with passion. The urge to win at all costs has always been a motivating factor among players of clubs, especially in countries where football is followed religiously.
Passionate supporters have been seen with animals like goat, pigeons, cock, eagle, black cats, and owl. These are not usually carried to the stadium ground for fun but are used as contact points for wielding magic spell on the opponent. Some teams have been known to patronize Marabout or Black magic priests before games. Some of these marabouts have even followed their team to major tournaments.
There have been reports of killing of goats and the blood is then spilled around the dressing room of opposing teams. This is a way of creating fear, panic, and a spell on the opposition. Whether they work or not is a subject for debate. Giovanni Trapattoni, for example, has been known to have sprinkled ‘holy water’ on the field when he was in charge of the Azzurri’s (Italian National team).
Players have been known to go for specific ritual and spiritual cleansing as a way of fortifying themselves before crucial games. Some have been known to even tie charms around their waist and wear armbands sprinkled black magic. Modern culture has gradually phased out some of these practices, but they still exist in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
Countries like Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, and Togo have been known to display traces of voodoo or Black magic during League matches or even international tournaments. As far back as 1975 for example, Cameroonian goalkeeper with local club side Aigles of Nkongsamba entered the football pitch with a live Eagle during a local league game with local rivals Canon Yaunde. It was a scary moment for the opposition players who protested to the center referee before the Eagle was subsequently removed from the pitch.
Fast forward to 1991, and in a game between Diamond of Yaounde and Caiman Doula, a huge hawk flew into the pitch and perched on the goalpost of Caiman FC. All attempts to drive the hawk away proved abortive. People believed it was the handiwork of Black magic.
The Chipolopolo of Zambia were surprised winners of the 2012 African cup of Nations. They won against a star-studded Ivory Coast side 8-7 on penalties. So many people, however, believed that the secret of their success was tied down to the use of voodoo.
There have been stories of players using black magic on their fellow teammates before major tournaments so they can be picked ahead of their teammates. An incident I would never forget in a hurry was that of one of Nigeria’s most talented goalkeepers at the FIFA U-16 World Championship held in Scotland in 1989.
Andrew AIKHUOMOGBE was so good that he was invited to the Super Eagles team three years later, for the Senegal 1992 African Nations Cup, but he had to leave the Super Eagles camp after his hands got swollen few days before the final selection was to be made. To date, the origin of that freak incident is still fresh and perhaps it was a way to ensure he never got selected for the National team.
Superstition about the use of black magic is so rampant in Africa, that before big derbies involving local club sides, players don’t shake hands for fear of been affected by voodoo or Black magic. In one of the most bizarre sporting moments of 2002, The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon goalkeeper Thomas N’Kono was arrested by riot police for allegedly using “black magic”, before the African Cup of Nations semi-final against Mali, which Cameroon eventually won 3–0 win.
Leicester City were surprise champions of the English Premier League in 2016, but their victory was alleged o have been aided by Buddhist monks who were always around during the team home games. The monks were given free access to the players dressing rooms were they were given special amulets that have been consecrated in Buddhist bowls.
The actual impact of voodoo on football may always elicit controversy and doubt, as long as Zaire who represented Africa in the 1974 FIFA World Cup and got walloped 9-0 by Yugoslavia, 3-0 by Brazil and 2-0 by Scotland without scoring any goal. They took along a Voodoo priest to help boost their chances.
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