Sep 30, 2022 I Paul Seaburn

Witchcraft Blamed for Strange Happenings in French Football

Witches, warlocks and witch doctors who apply curses have been around far longer than sports competitions, but their business undoubtedly increased dramatically when men began kicking balls around while other men cheered, booed and placed bets. If one hires the services of a person who claims to have superpowers that can affect the outcome of a sporting contest, that implies the purchaser believes these powers are real. With football (the associated or soccer kind, not the American version) being the most popular sport in the world, it should come as no surprise that witchcraft and curses are occasionally used by players, owners and fans. If you think this is absurd and couldn’t possibly work, consider that a number of leagues around the world specifically ban the use of witches, warlocks and curses. That brings us to Paul Pogba – a current player on the Juventus team in France and a former star for Manchester United – who has been accused of hiring a witchdoctor to influence match results, injure another player and more nefarious sports deeds. Let’s take a look at this case and some other witchcraft/football scandals in France. Can it help YOUR favorite team?

Witch player should you put the curse on?

“The turning point came with the World Cup in 2018. Paul had more faith in the witch doctor than in God, entrusting the witch with a big task in order to help the French team win. After that, Paul continued with his witch doctor, notably in the Champions League to ensure that Manchester United would go through against PSG [in 2019]. At the request of Paul, the witch was told to neutralize Kylian Mbappé, who back then was on a rapid rise, far outstripping Paul’s fame. It was strange to see that during that match Kylian was a shadow of himself against a reserve side.”

You know the intersection of sports and witchcraft is serious when it is covered by ESPN and other top sports networks and sports media sites. World Soccer Talk reports that Mathias Pogba, midfielder Paul Pogba’s brother, posted videos in which he claims his brother hired a witch doctor to help Manchester United beat PSG in 2019 by putting a spell on PSG superstar Kylian Mbappé. In case you’re making plans, Mathias claims his brother paid $4 million to the witch doctor – his name is Ibrahim but he’s better known as "Grande" and he advertises himself as a witch doctor or marabout who can cast a curse, lift a curse, bring luck and success, or make a life miserable. With his reputation, he is the go-to witch doctor in Paris for sports curses. Mathias Pogba claims the curse his brother bought worked … and he may have gotten another one on Mathias.

“Paul Pogba's brother has been charged by French authorities in connection with an alleged organised armed extortion attempt against the Juventus midfielder.”

“Mathias Pogba has denied taking part in extortion attempts against his brother. Mathias Pogba's lawyer, Richard Arbib, said in a statement last week that his client wants "more than anything else" to ease the situation with his brother.”

That’s right … while it was Paul Pogba who allegedly purchased the sports curse, Mathia is the one in jail on charges of extortion against his brother. The football star admitted to The Daily Mail that he had visited “Grande” but only for “divine” intervention to help him deal with his current injuries that may keep him out of the upcoming FIFA 2022 World Cup in November. While his intention may have been good – albeit unconventional – using witchcraft of any kind may keep him out of the World Cup and other competitions. In 2003, the practice of “juju” or witchcraft was banned the Confederation of African Football following the Rwandan national team’s 1-0 victory over Uganda where fans and players rioted of the alleged use of juju in the match. The ban was called upon again in 2016 in a Rwandan Premier League match which a referee had to stop twice under suspicion of juju being used against a goalie. According to Hamza Nkuutu, a columnist for Rwandan newspaper the New Times who reported on the event:

“There is no place for juju in modern football.”

And yet … it seems to be a regular feature of the world's favorite sport. In 2003, Senegal’s national team, the Lions of Terenga, hired an official witch doctor for a tournament and shocked everyone by reaching the quarterfinals and defeating the defending champion French team … a team with some players who were aware of the witch doctor. In 1997, the president of PSG allegedly hired Sidi, another famous witch doctor, for a number of matches that the team won. According to ESPN, the use of witch doctors is popular in France and in Africa, which send a lot of players to French clubs.

"From that moment that he put the curse on, everything went wrong for the team."

One final story illustrates why teams and fans should use caution in dealing with witch doctors. During the World Cup qualifying round in Mozambique in 1969, the Australian men's national soccer team, nicknamed the "Socceroos", hired a local shaman for help in defeating Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). The team won but allegedly stiffed the shaman on his payment. As a result, he reversed the curse out of spite and the Socceroos had bad luck from then on – having terrible records and qualifying for only one World Cup over the next 32 years. However, in 2004, an Australian television personality hired two shamans to break the curse and the Socceroos qualified for the 2006 World Cup and reached the Round of 16 -- their best finish in its history.

Be careful who you curse and don't stiff the witch doctor.

Can a witch doctor really affect the outcome of a football match? Most experts and coaches say it depends on how many players believe in witchcraft. Did football star Paul Pogba really hire a witch doctor to curse PSG superstar Kylian Mbappé, who appeared to struggle in the match? Or did he hire the witch doctor for medical reasons? Did it help? We probably won’t know the answer to those questions since he and his brother are now tied up in the extortion case. Could a witch doctor have caused the extortion case? If “Grande” can do that, he could be the world’s first trillionaire.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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