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Soccer News of Wednesday, 7 June 2023


5 biggest curses in football as Pep Guardiola looks to break the 'Yaya Toure curse'

The photo used to illustrate the story The photo used to illustrate the story

In football, like any other sport, one must put in hard work, consistency, and diligence to achieve one's goals. Sheer luck plays its part every once in a while, but there is only so much good fortune can cover.

For others, they hold onto superstitions and curses, and depending on how strong one's faith is, these things exist to them and bizarrely enough, there has at times been solid evidence to back them up.

One example is the 'curse' which is said to have prevented Pep Guardiola from winning the Champions League (apart from during his time with Barcelona) because of how he treated Yaya Toure.

The player's former agent, Dimitri Seluk, famously stated the Spaniard would never win another European crown due to witchcraft imposed on him and his team by African shamans.

Strangely, it has held true - Pep has not won one since then. It has always been a case of near misses, but this year he reportedly 'lifted the curse', as reported by GOAL.

Will Manchester City finally win the trophy on the year the alleged curse was lifted?

Toure continues to disassociate himself from those claims, but as history shows, there have been other such 'curses' in football - Sports Brief takes a look.

1. Benfica and Beia Guttmann

Benfica managed to pry manager, Beia Guttmann from fierce rivals, Porto in 1959. He quickly settled down and won back-to-back Portuguese titles and Champions League titles, breaking Real Madrid's dominance in doing so.

Guttmann is said to have asked for a pay rise following his unprecedented success, but the club's board rejected his request. It is said the legendary Hungarian put a curse on Benfica so that they would not win any European Cup for the next 100 years.

It has been 61 years since Guttmann allegedly said those words. The Portuguese side has never won another European Cup, losing eight finals in the process.

2. Australia and the World Cup

Let's head back to Africa. Australia's national football team reportedly approached a witch doctor to help them beat Zimbabwe (referred to back then as Rhodesia) to help them qualify for the 1970 World Cup.

The witch doctor is said to have buried bones near the goalposts. Somehow his 'charm' worked as Australia won 3-1. However, things turned sour when the players failed to pay the witch doctor, who is said to have reverted the curse back on the Socceroos.

As it turned out, Australia lost their next game against Israel and failed to qualify for the World Cup. They made it to the 1974 edition but did not score a single goal. Afterwards, they failed to make it to football's showpiece until 2006.

Two years earlier, John Safran, a media personality, went to Mozambique, where the original 'curse' had been placed, and paid another witch doctor to reverse it, as reported by Australia Broadcasting Corporation.

Since then, Australia has never failed to make it to the World Cup.

3. Romani Gypsies and Birmingham

Birmingham were reportedly handed a 'century of curses' after building their St. Andrews home ground on land that belongs to the Romani Gypsies.

During the course of the 'spell', the club was relegated in their first full season at their new home ground. Their first game at home of that season was also delayed by an hour.

More misfortunes followed when the main stand burned down during the Second World War. Contaminated waste in the 90s cost the club nearly 25,000 euros to remove.

The club never won any trophies during the 100-year period, and in the very final year of the said 'curse', they were relegated again. Five years after the lapse of the 'curse', the Blues finally won their first major trophy, beating Arsenal in the League Cup final, as reported by Sky Sports.

4. Bayer 'Neverkusen'

Unlike the other cases, it has never been known who imposed the 'curse' on Bayer Leverkusen. They got their cruel nickname - Neverkusen - in the 1990s and early 2000s after they consistently fell short in every competition - known in modern-day football as 'bottling'.

The team has finished in second place in the German top flight in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2011. The losses in 2000 and 2002 particularly stung, as they had strong advantages going into the final rounds of the season, but somehow managed to throw away their leads.

In 2002, they also lost the DFB Pokal and Champions League finals which, in essence, were a potential chance at winning a historic treble, as TFT reports.

5. Racing and the black cats

If you thought these 'curses' were bizarre so far, think again. In 1967, Racing Club, one of Argentina's most successful clubs, were reportedly 'cursed' after fans of rival club, Independiente buried seven black cats at their home stadium.

Racing failed to replicate the successes of previous years, with the club even getting relegated in 1983. Six of the seven cats were found over the years, but the hoodoo seemingly remained, with the club going bankrupt in 1988.

In 1989, a priest led an exorcism exercise, but that still didn't help matters. In 2001, new manager, Reinaldo Merlo led a full search which finally unearthed the last feline.

Believe it or not, within months after all the cats were found, Racing won their first title since 1966.

These stories seem cringeworthy, especially with no concrete evidence to back them up. But the coincidences in some of the cases can be seen as too huge to ignore.

All eyes will be on Guardiola on June 10 when he faces Inter Milan. And if he wins, there will be questions about whether Toure's agent was really serious about the African shaman 'curse' story.