Has All the Magic Gone? Juju, Africa, and Superstitions in the Game


“Amidst all the tragedy, politics, business, and even bits of sport that have made news from the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, I’ve been intrigued by something conspicuous primarily in its absence: there have been virtually no stories of the juju / muti / witchcraft commonly used to exoticize the African game. Confederation of African Football (CAF) administrators must be pleased. In the midst of several embarrassing incidents during the last decade, most notably the arrest of Cameroonian coaches (one of whom was German) during the 2002 Cup of Nations in Mali for ‘trying to place a magic charm on the pitch,’ CAF has worked hard to ‘modernize’ the image of African soccer. As a CAF spokesperson noted after the Mali episode: ‘we are no more willing to see witch doctors on the pitch than cannibals at the concession stands. Image is everything.’ ” (Pitch Invasion)

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