Traditional medicines and witch doctors could be allowed in South Africa for the 2010 Word Cup of football, according to FIFA’s third International Football Medicine Conference currently held in Sun City. But does voodoo really work?
Has the world soccer governing body FIFA given teams, particularly
African ones, a green light to use traditional medicines and consult
witch doctors or juju man during the World Cup finals?
Information coming out from the just ended Third International
Football Medicine Conference at Sun City, South Africa this week seem
to suggest so.
Close to 300 sport physicians, physiotherapists and the team doctors
of the 32 participating teams at this year’s World Cup were in attendance.
Not too concerned
But on the use of “undetectable stimulants derived from traditional
African medicines that aren’t currently banned substances”, FIFA sounds
a little worried.
FIFA’s chairperson of the medical committee Michel D’Hooghe is today
quoted saying FIFA “is not too concerned about the use of traditional African medicines during the World Cup”.
“We must insist that we do not know much about it. We have learned
these products can have diuretic and some a stimulating effect,” says
D’Hooghe said he became aware of the extent of the issue at FIFA’s medical conference this weekend ahead of the World Cup in South Africa, which starts on June 11.
Found in Ghana
South African team doctor Ntlopi Mogoru said the plants, usually found
in tropical African countries like Ghana, can produce steroid by-products that are not on WADA’s list and aren’t picked up in doping tests.
But what of the famous Juju man or special team advisors. In African soccer, stories of Juju man and black magic are simultaneously fun, controversial and misleading. They are also extraordinarily common.
Most footballers in Africa use this method of getting back to one’s roots before a big match.
A witch doctor or juju man are known to perform many wonders from casting spells over soccer balls or a player’s uniform before a game to smearing their teams’ goalposts with magic potions to keep balls out.
Superstition runs deep in Africa, and sports-related juju reflects that. Many spectators watch the bouncing ball at soccer matches but keep one eye on suspicious individuals on the sidelines who might be trying to put a hex on the action.
Juju man team at WC ’74
Back in 1974, the Leopards of Zaire took a team of witch doctors to the team’s World Cup matches.
Unfortunately, something went awry. The side fell to Scotland and Brazil in the opening matches and was then walloped 9 to 1 by Yugoslavia
However, if Juju really works, will any African team that uses juju and wins the World Cup be dismissed as coincidence? It’s only four months left to get a proper verdict.