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Strange Incidents in Football: Lightning and Sorcery on the Pitch

Footballers are often superstitious individuals. They ensure they step onto the field with the right foot, refrain from washing their clothes, and avoid showers during important tournaments. However, sometimes, athletes, in their pursuit of luck, go beyond innocent superstitions and delve into the realm of real sorcery.
Christian Steward
By: Christian Steward

Today, we in a partnership project with 22bet delve into some of the biggest stories regarding paranormal interference in the beautiful game of football.

Personal Shaman To Influence Favorable Outcomes

Not so long ago, Paul Pogba, one of the brightest stars of his generation, was close to surpassing the legendary Zinedine Zidane, one of the best midfielders in history. A little later, the news stories began to emerge, not about Paul's athletic feats but scandals, conflicts, and fashionable hairstyles, which started to erase his spectacular work on the pitch.

https://twitter.com/paulpogba/status/1682751084308361217

In recent years, the Frenchman has sunk deep into hopeless decay. A return to his old stomping ground at Juventus failed to help the French World Cup winner from regaining his old self. 

To make matters worse, he had the misfortune of a series of injuries followed by a failed doping test. As if that was not enough, he managed to get embroiled in a sorcery scandal. 

According to Paul's brother, Mathias Pogba, a shaman squeezed into the player's inner circle and had the responsibility of protecting the midfielder from trouble and sending curses to his opponents. Seems that the shaman wasn’t that good because how else would you explain the misfortunes that have befallen the Frenchman? 

Mathias didn’t share any details on the protective charms that the marabout offered. Details of his actions include the eve of Manchester United's match with PSG in March 2019 when Paul turned to the marabout with a request to blunt the PSG attacks. Manchester United went on to win that match in spectacular fashion. 

Information about this came to light on the eve of the 2022 World Cup and dealt a fatal blow to the atmosphere in the locker room of the French national team. Mbappe did not want to share the field with Pogba and the team management decided to remove the midfielder from the team to not aggravate the situation. Be that as it may, Kylian even answered questions about the curse at press conferences - which means that witchcraft, in his understanding, is real. 

As both Biram (the Marabout) and Pogba himself later explained, there was no magic outside Hogwarts, as well as no rituals involving the two men. The Frenchman was simply engaged in charity work, helping a Senegalese village and its inhabitants, and Biram acted as an intermediary there, probably taking part of the money for himself.

Nevertheless, it is interesting that Paul met the marabout exactly on the eve of his return to Manchester, after which his career took a turn. Just a coincidence, don't you think?

Ronaldo or Messi - Who Do Sorcerers Love More?

One can argue endlessly about the greatness and significance of the Portuguese and Argentine legends - which is what millions of people worldwide are doing, hundreds, if not thousands, right now. We will ignore the provocative question but talk about how both football players encountered paranormal influences in their careers.

Cristiano Ronaldo was the first to feel the influence of witchcraft, and, it seems, immediately after that, he hired not only a personal chef but also a teacher in Defense Against the Dark Arts.

It was in 2014 when Ronaldo experienced one of the peak moments of his career, tearing opponents apart at Real Madrid and in international matches. In the summer, the Portuguese was supposed to go to the World Cup and meet the Ghana national team in the group stage. The West African national team needed protection from the "universal weapon" of the Ballon d'Or winner, Cristiano, and this defense came from the extraordinary.

A well-known (mainly due to this story) Ghanaian sorcerer, Nana Kwaku Bonsam, claimed to have cursed Ronaldo, harming his physical fitness. Moreover, he promised that not a single doctor in the world would be able to help the player because Ronaldo’s ailments would defy any medical logic. True to Bonsam’s words, towards the end of the season, Cristiano had an injured hip and a hamstring injury. 

https://twitter.com/Cristiano/status/1765094399984443514

However, this did not prevent the Portuguese from being included in the World Cup squad and playing a central role in knocking Ghana out of the tournament. On the other hand, Cristiano did not make it to the final - it was his main competitor, Messi, that made it (although unsuccessful in winning the World Cup that time).

Lionel Messi would encounter sorcery two years later, just before the Copa America tournament. Peruvian shamans organized a purification ritual for the Argentine team captain, after which they concluded that the team would take the cup without any problems and Leo would shine like no other. It turned out awkwardly: Argentina lost to Chile in the final, and it was Messi who missed the crucial penalty kick.

However, this did not break the football legend's faith in sorcery. Before the next World Cup, Leo once again approached the Masters of the Dark Arts in the hope that, this time, the spirits would take his side.

Argentine sorcerer Manuel, nicknamed the Witcher, a fellow countryman, was obsessed with the idea of the victory of his national team at the World Cup. His resume included offering his Darks Arts support for Estudiantes on their way to winning the coveted Copa Libertadores. That time the team won, which gave Manuel a chance to show his prowess for the Argentina national team in the World Cup.

For one of the key matches of the qualification, the Witcher travelled with the national team to Ecuador. He didn't seem to brew potions or hunt monsters—he just organized a session of energy rituals for the players both in the locker room and on the pitch. Argentina eventually won, and Messi scored a hat-trick. And here, you definitely can't figure out whether it was the magic of a football genius or the Witcher’s pre-match ritual.

By the start of the World Cup, all the magic was over, and Argentina looked extremely unconvincing. Perhaps it would have been worth extending the contract with the sorcerer – maybe it would have helped Lionel get the trophy he coveted his entire career four years earlier.

Lightning on the Football Pitch

And finally, perhaps, there is the most horrific legend about the interference of sorcerers interfering in football matches. On 29 October 1998, tragedy struck the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lightning killed 11 players at once during a match between teams from the settlements of Basang and Ben Tsadi. And surprisingly, only the players of the visiting club died.

The authoritative local newspaper L'Avenir was the first to report the incident. The news instantly spread worldwide, and respected publications such as the Associated Press, the BBC, and the Independent wrote about it. They, to put it mildly, hinted at the involvement of witchcraft in the terrible event, if not explicitly stated, that African teams regularly hire shamans for paranormal support.

The fact is that even today the majority of the population of African countries unconditionally believes in magic, sorcery, and the power of spirits. Even in the most developed countries of the continent, which have experienced colonization and Europeanization, skepticism often gives way to belief in the mystical and magical.

This fascination with forbidden knowledge has not bypassed football either. Many teams have full-time sorcerers, or at least club bosses turn to them at key moments of the season.

Cases of the use of amulets or the performance of strange rituals before a match (such as sprinkling a special powder on the feet) were recorded until recently so regularly that the local football confederation officially banned the use of magic before the 2002 African Cup. In 2016, the Rwandan Football Federation imposed similar restrictions on its local clubs after one of the players spoke to the goal during a match before sending the ball into it.

Therefore, of course, no one thought to write off the death of 11 players of the same team as a fatal accident. Although skeptics, of course, tried to find logic in the tragedy. For example, there is a theory that explains the selectivity of lightning by the fact that one team played in boots with metal spikes that attracted the discharge and the other in rubber ones.

However, it seems that we will never know the truth. Nor will we be able to verify whether this is a myth or reality. The fact is that there was no live broadcast of the match and no photos or videos either. In addition, the tragedy happened at a time when the Democratic Republic of the Congo was torn apart by war, so it was almost impossible to verify the facts, especially for foreign journalists.

Yes, a hugely popular video on YouTube illustrates the story, but it was recorded a few months before the match between the teams from the settlements of Basanga and Ben Tsadi. The lightning imprinted on it was merciful to the players—none of them died, and only two of the athletes went to the hospital.

In the end, let's be clear: playing in bad weather and the risk of being struck by accidental lightning are the everyday life of football in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A recent study published in the journal Bulletin of the American Meteorology Society confirmed that the frequency of lightning strikes per square meter in the country is second only to the frequency in the vicinity of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, where nighttime thunderstorms reign on average 297 days a year. Therefore, if we assume the truth of the story about the tragedy and the participation of sorcerers in it, the shamans should have just slightly corrected the natural power of the elements.

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Christian Steward
Written by: Christian Steward
Christian Steward is an Exclusive Reporter for Betimate with over 10 years of experience in conducting reseach and analyzing data in order to provide approriate statistics for Betimate's Board of Experts.

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