Curses in football
There’s a popular belief that football is plagued with a couple of curses. I’m not an occultist or anything, so, I won’t really deny the part, but it seems like a few of the following situations are indeed some sort of curse, cause otherwise I can’t explain how in the world are these teams up for so much failure. Without further intro, the curses.
The Bela Gutman curse
Bela Gutman, a former Hungarian manager, joined Benfica in 1959, leading the Portughese side to 2 Primeira Liga titles, one Portuguese Cup and 2 European Cups. In 1962, he asked for a pay rise, but his request was turned down despite his great acheivemenets for the Lisbon club, who was the European Cup winner at the time. Gutman left the club and then cursed it, declaring: “Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion.” Benfica has appeared in five European Cup finals and three UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League finals since 1962 and lost all of them. Funny thing is how people thought the curse would automatically break after Gutman died, only for Benfica to lose a an Europa League final against Chelsea due to Rafa Benitez’s interim reign and desperation to sign with a decent team, and against Sevilla due to Unai Emery’s will to take himself into the top football.
I guess you could say their incompetence is a curse. Bayer Leverkusen has never managed to win the Bundesliga, therefore being nicknamed “Neverkusen” or “Vizekusen” (vize meaning second in German), as well as the “Bridesmaid of Europe”. They finished as runners-up for three years in a row between 1999 and 2002, but the nickname came to popularity during the 2001-2002 season, when they lost both the league and the UEFA Champions League. Additionally, the German national team which finished runners-up to Brazil at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final featured five Leverkusen players. How ironic! You know, this is more of a popular belief, either mockingly or serious, but boy is it legit…
Mexico have been eliminated from every FIFA World Cup at the round of 16 stage from 1994 onward, with the first incident happening in when the team lost to Bulgaria at the USA World Cup through a penalty shootout, and since then were eliminated at the same stage from every tournament afterwards (1998, 2002, 2010, 2014 and 2018). Most recently by freaking Brazil, of all teams, since, you know, they were so weak this World Cup that Paulinho was their best player… Ignorance is bliss and incompetence is a curse. If even Mexico qualifies, I could write about Atletico anytime.
Curse of Ramsay
Since 2011, the Arsenal midlefielder Aaron Ramsay has been associated with a mythical curse called “the Ramsey effect”, meaning that almost every time he scores a goal, a celebrity dies. It has been brought up after such high-profile deaths as those of Osama bin Laden, Muammar Gadaffi, Steve Jobs, Whitney Houston, Robin Williams, David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Nancy Reagan. Well, real or not, he did take out some baddies…
The Comizzo curse
In 1997, during the second leg of league decider game between Cruz Azul and Club Leon, two Mexican clubs, Leon’s goalkeeper Angel Comizzo kicked Carlos Hermosillo in the face causing Hermosillo to bleed profusely inside the penalty area, leading to a foul and a penalty kick in Cruz Azul’s favor. As the penalty was given, the referee asked Hermosillo to clean the blood from his face, but the latter ignored him and scored the penalty. Cruz Azul became champion for the 8th time in club history, but the event led fans to believe that both teams were cursed by the blood. Leon has been in the inferior league since 2002, but promoted back and won the league in 2013, breaking their part of the curse.
On the other hand, Cruz Azul has lost several finals in the Mexican league, the CONCACAF Champions League, and the Copa Libertadores, many of them at the last minute, although they won the Cup in 2013. This led to rival club fans calling them “Sub-champions” in a mocking way.
Birmingham City suffered their own one hundred years curse from 1906 to 2006, since the club moved to their current stadium, St. Andrews, building it on a land that has been used by gypsies. After they were forced to move, the angry gypsies put an 100-year hex on the stadium. Therefore, Birmingham have aquired a reputation as one of England’s yo-yo clubs, shuttling up and down between divisions. Several Birmingham managers have tried to break this curse, but with little success. On Boxing Day 2006, the curse was finally lifted and on that day Birmingham City celebrated a 2–1 win over Queens Park Rangers F.C.. In 2010, Birmingham City finally won the League Cup against Arsenal, 2–1 at Wembley, this being their first major trophy. And for some reason I tend to think this curse was way more real than anything surrounding Mexico and Bayer Leverkusen…
The curse is very simillar to the one of Birmingham City; Derby County build their stadium, the Baseball Ground, on a land used by gypsies who had to move. The curse was that Derby County would never win the FA Cup. Despite reaching six FA Cup semi finals between 1896 and 1903, including three finals, they never managed to win the trophy. The curse was lifted in 1946, when Derby County won 4-1 against Charlton Athletic.
Hibernians had lost an agonising ten straight Scottish Cup finals since 1902, until finally breaking the curse and winning the trophy in 2016 against Glasgow Rangers. I find it very funny how Rangers fans, while their team was still in the second division, were thinking of how they would win and return to Europe cause Hibernians are cursed… Way to go boy.