Who doesn’t remember the octopus that made predictions during the World Championships in South Africa? Soccer and religion are inextricably associated in Africa. Most Africans are Christians or Muslims, but at the same time there is widespread belief in sorcery, witchcraft and magic.

In Ghana it is called “juju”; in other countries people call it voodoo or gris-gris. It is a belief system in which specialists use plants, herbs, fetishes, spirits and rituals to obtain certain objectives. These specialists are often called “spiritual advisors.” Juju is a serious subject in Africa, including in Ghana. For example, players use it to eliminate a competitor who plays the same position they do. Clubs usually have a fixed budget for “preparing” for matches.
Many Africans and Westerners claim that believing in juju is primitive and stands in the way of soccer development. According to them, players should focus on training hard and improving their skills instead of relying on juju. They say it brings about a certain resignation in the players. Managers are therefore against the use of juju and clubs regularly incur penalties for using juju during league matches. However, the question is whether such measures will bear fruit when even top managers strongly believe in the power of juju.
Does it work?
Of course, it is difficult to prove whether juju works or not. But outside of the reputed spiritual powers, juju has an important psychological aspect as well. Players feel strong when they wear a talisman that protects them from injury. Singing together before a game forges a team bond between the players. And let’s be honest, European players aren’t exactly strangers to rituals either. Lucky shoelaces, the order in which they sit during lunch, entering the field last, etc. If a player believes that he will play better after performing some sort of ritual, then he often will.