When football and sorcery collide

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It took blood, sweat and tears for Benfica to win the Portuguese Primera last season and, according to bitter rival Porto, sorcery.

In a claim worthy of a Harry Potter novel, Porto's communication director Francisco J. Marques has sensationally accused the club's bitter rival of forking out $111,000 on an African witch doctor to help the Eagles win the league last season.

Win they did. Now Marques claims there are emails between Benfica President Luis Filipe Vieira and Guinea-Bissau’s National Police Commissioner which corroborate his allegations of thaumaturgy.

“In 2015/16, Benfica spent 75,000 euros (£65,000) for the Championship,” Marques fumed. "We’re talking about witchcraft with a goal contract.

“It was many thousand euros that Benfica paid. This calls into question the coach, the players, but also (executives) Paulo Goncalves and Pedro Guerra.

“What are you creating an octopus for? Creating this monster that allows everything to Benfica and nothing to others, and for witchcraft?”

Bizarrely, this isn't the first time football and the dark arts have collided.

Socceroos mess with the wrong mystic

Legend has it Australia sought out divine intervention in Mozambique while trying to qualify for the 1970 FIFA World Cup.

The tale goes that the Socceroos needed to beat Zimbabwe - formerly Rhodesia - and commissioned a witch doctor to curse the opposition by burying bones near one of the goalposts.

The Green and Gold won the match 3-1, but when it came time to pay the witch doctor’s $1000 fee, the players decided to do the runner, much to the dismay of the mystic who vowed to put the curse back on Australian football.

The national team saved $1000 on the day but the curse came back to bite hard - it crashed out of the 1974 FIFA World Cup without scoring a single goal and failed to qualify for the next seven World Cups. Bet they’ll think twice before skipping the bill again.

In 2005 comedian John Safran 'lifted the curse', seeking out a witch doctor in Africa and performing an elaborate ceremony. Not long afterwards the Socceroos qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 35 years 

Shaqiri's magic mountain healer

Sometimes a club can have all the medical doctors, state-of-the-art facilities and expert consultants in the world, but nothing beats the old fashioned magic of an enigmatic, reclusive witch doctor. 

So it was for Stoke City midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, who famously spoke of the time he was sent to see a ‘healer in the mountains’ by his manager inter Milan, Roberto Mancini.

"One time I was injured and I needed to be ready for a game. They told me that there was a miraculous healer who lived in the mountains," The Switzerland international told Blick. "I drove for half an hour in a car to have been manipulated by an old man, but he did not help me at all."

Adebayor's family feud

The former Tottenham striker’s family feud took a bizarre twist when he sensationally accused his mother of using black magic to ruin his form in front of goal.

The Togo international was accused by relatives of kicking his mother out of home, and the striker returned fire, accusing his mother of performing west African witchcraft ‘juju’ on him.

“How am I going to be in touch with my mum if my mum is the one telling everyone that my work will not go forward. They should stop talking, talking, they should stop doing juju on me – they should leave me alone."

When the Rwandan FA had to ban witch-craft

Rayon Sports was trailing Mukura Victory in the Rwandan Premier League, when striker Moussa Camara decided to take matters into his own hands.

Frustrated by hitting the cross bar with his team trailing 1-0, Camara was seen running over and placing a small object beside the goal, before scoring the equaliser seconds later.

The Federation of Rwanda Football Association responded swiftly, banning the practice and fining Camara 100,000 Rwandan Francs ($167).