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Superstition in football continues worldwide


AN INTERESTING video focusing on the suspected practice of black magic in the Rwanda Premier League has been making rounds on various social media platforms recently.
The video involves Mukura and Rayon Sports players in an altercation over alleged use of witchcraft between the two teams at Huye Stadium in Batare recently.
According to Hamza Nkuutu, a Rwandan journalist, during the game, Mukura took an early lead but before kick-off, their goalkeeper was captured by the Azam cameras, ‘planting some stuff’ at the base of his goalpost, and while the game was going on, Rayon Sports were alerted by their bench and they went to uproot the alleged juju.
Nkuutu further writes that, “This happened twice, which meant the referee had to stop the match twice, to deal with the running battles and one or two fans were arrested by the police.
“Ironically, after the alleged juju was removed by forward Moussa Camara, the Malian went on to net the equaliser at the stroke of half-time. The match ended 1-1 but whether juju had anything to do with Rayon Sports’ equalising goal is a matter that will be debated for some time.”
The issues of the use of witchcraft and juju is not peculiar to Rwanda and Africa but South America and Asian countries, and club sides have been said to believe in superstition of some kind.
Sportsmen world over are highly superstitious people. Former England goalkeeper David James was once quoted by The Telegraph as saying “many footballers have an obsessive routine that goes way beyond normal”.
The Telegraph further writes, “From the commonplace tendency of players to touch the ground and cross their heart as they come onto the pitch, to those players that harbour the frankly ridiculous belief that no harm can come to them because they wear their underwear inside out – football is full of them.”
In Zambia stories of coaches, players and administrators employing juju or performing a particular superstition for their team to gain an advantage over their opponents and influence the outcome of the match are vast and wide.
“I have witnessed it with my own eyes, the issue of using mizyu [black magic] is a normal occurrence in football, some players believe in it, others don’t, but it is there,” one player in the Zambia Super League tells me.
The player tells me stories of how some footballers obtain lucky charms from witch doctors for a host of reasons, it is so bad that some cast spells against their own teammates.
“It is in varying degrees, others will have medicine to be picked in the team over the other, while others it will be just to have a good game, score a goal or prevent the opponent from scoring, such are things in football,” he says.
A named former player tells me of an experience where his team has a traditional doctor (witch doctor) attached to take them through various rituals ahead of a game.
“In our time they were normal, but that is not to say we depended on juju or superstitious practices we had gifted players and coaches but still there was one or two people who believed that we needed more than talent to win games,” the former player says.
It is very difficult to prove the existence of witchcraft or non-existence of it. While many have recognised its presence in football, others have laughed off the assertions.
Its alleged practice in football, for example, comes with conditions that are stranger than fiction. Most players I have talked to give me stories that are jaw-dropping.
As regards to whether juju works in football is a debate for another day. However, your question is as good as mine.
If witchcraft in football works, why is it that no African country has ever won the World Cup considering that the people from this beautiful continent are regarded to be masters of the ‘art’?
The author is a Zambia Daily Mail sports correspondent

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