After Neymar's injury, the Brazilian team may need all the magic it can get.Â
Magic, or some other supernatural tendency, has hadÂ a long and weirdly intimate relationshipwith the game of soccer.
This isnâ€™t simply a matter of the clairvoyant octopus or turtle that may have accurately predicted the outcome of a World Cup match or two.
When Ghanaâ€™s national team, for instance, lost to Zambia in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, Ghanaian coach Goran Stevanovic pointed toÂ deliberate acts of witchcraftÂ between his players as a plausible explanation for the upset. (Stevanovic, it should be said, was fired shortly afterward.)
So let us be disturbed, but not particularly surprised, by Helio Sillman, the Brazilian â€œblack-magic enthusiastâ€ who, via a voodoo doll in his occult curio shop in northern Rio de Janeiro,Â has plans toÂ â€œtake [Germanyâ€™s] top player and bind his legs so he canâ€™t run on the pitch,â€ reports AFP.
Brazil will play Germany on Tuesday afternoon in whatâ€™ll likely be aÂ riveting match, considering the near infallibility of both teams so far. In the past few weeks, Brazil has trounced Cameroon, Chile, Croatia and Mexico; Sillman has voodoo dolls of players from all four teams sitting in a bowl in his shop. The match results are proof, he says, that his magic works.
The Brazilian team may need all the magic it can get. Neymar, the teamâ€™s golden player, apparently fell outside the domain of Sillmanâ€™s protective aura when he was kneed in the back during Fridayâ€™s quarterfinal match against Colombia, causing aÂ particularly nasty lumbar vertebra fractureÂ thatâ€™ll keep him benched for the remainder of the World Cup.