Football by simple logic should depend solely on abilities and tactics but over the years the beautiful game has been steeped in superstition.
3 famous curses in football history
The ‘Yaya Toure curse' is supposedly responsible for Pep Guardiola’s Champions League woes, here are some other famous curses in football.
Manchester City suffered yet another brutal Champions League disappointment having lost to Real Madrid in the 2022 semi-final to make it six unsuccessful attempts to win the trophy since Pep Guardiola took over.
So why does this super-rich and successful team stacked with quality players and led by one of the greatest managers of all time consistently fail on the big stage? The Yaya Toure curse.
In honour of that highly superstitious and probably untrue phenomenon, here are three of the most famous curses in football history arranged by descending order of believability and craziness.
Southampton moved from their old stadium ‘The Dell’ to their present home, St Marys in 2001 but their housewarming did not go as planned at all.
The Saints moved into their new home at the start of the 2001/02 season which started in August and struggled so badly that different theories were flying around to rationalise their dismal home form.
One theory suggested that a group of Portsmouth supporters (Southampton’s rivals) buried their team's shirt under one of the stands while construction was ongoing.
Another theory blamed it on the land, saying that the stadium had been built on a pagan burial site which jinxed the team.
As ridiculous and untrue as those sound, Pagan witch Ceridwen Dragonoak Connelly reportedly performed a Celtic cleansing ceremony and whether by divine intervention or just pure luck, Southampton won their next home game, on November 25 2001.
After Southampton defeated Charlton, the witch in question was in a gloating mood, quoted as saying "I performed a ritual there and, because of my upbringings, I did it in Welsh. I performed a cleansing of the ground in Celtic tradition but athletes are a very superstitious bunch and I did a blessing for some positive energy and it has obviously worked."
Legend has it that sometime in 1967, fans of Argentinian club Independiente broke into the stadium of their neighbours and eternal rivals Racing Club and buried seven dead cats while Racing fans were out celebrating their latest trophy.
What happened between then and 1998 was the downfall of Racing Club on and off the pitch as the club got relegated and went bankrupt in that period.
The club even brought in a priest to perform an exorcism on the pitch in front of a packed stadium like it was a home game. After a thorough search, six cat dead bodies were said to have been recovered, rather surprising that they had not decayed after all these years.
Their fortunes still did not fully change until 2001 when head coach Reinaldo Merlo ordered for the full pitch to be dug in a bid to find the last cat which they did and of course Racing Club went on to win the league that year, their first title since 1966.
Benfica’s European embargo
Perhaps the most famous football curse of all time probably because it is still active to this day, Benfica are reportedly operating under a 100-year curse that makes it near impossible to win any European trophy.
Benfica had won back-to-back European Cups in 1961 and 62 thanks to manager Bela Guttmann who then saw it fit to ask for a raise in wages but the club responded by firing him instead.
"Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion." is the quote attributed to Guttmann as his response to the Benfica board’s ungrateful treatment.
Benfica have since played and lost European Cup finals in 1963, 1965 and 1968 immediately after Guttmann left.
The Portuguese club lost two more finals in 1988 and 1990 abd the curse extended to the UEFA Cup/Europa League as well, losing finals in 1983, 2013 and 2014.
60 years on, Bela Guttmann’s words remain true and Benfica remains without any European trophy and by his schedule, they will not win any until 2062.