Senegal football chiefs declare war on the use of magic

Senegalee national football team supporters dance on March 23, 2013 at the Stade du 28 Septembre in Conakry during their 2014 World Cup qualification match between Angola and Senegal. The country's football chiefs plan to outlaw the use of mysterious practices in sport. AFP PHOTO  

Football authorities in Senegal have declared a war against occult and mystical practices in the sporting arena.

"The battle against these practices within the stadiums is now one of our projects and we will begin by banning it (occult and mysticism) inside the stadiums,'' said Saer Seck, the chair of Senegal’s Professional Football League.

Saer Seck said that these practices were "the main sources of conflict and violence" in the country's sporting arena.

Recently, riot police had to intervene in clashes between supporters of two second division teams whose fans were openly performing "dangerous" occult and mystical practices as their teams played.

The country's Leopold Sedar Senghor stadium was last November banned from hosting matches for a year after major crowd trouble in a game between Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal.

The occult is generally defined as knowledge of the paranormal including through the use of magic and divination.

"Nobody can prevent managers and players from having faith in these practices, but they should be done at home and not on sporting grounds," said Saer Seck.

"The playing area must be dedicated solely to football and not the practice of occult and mysticism," he said.

Saer Seck urged sporting associations and their supporters to respect the rules governing sporting activities in the country which categorically ban the use of mystical or oculist practices.

Occult and mystical practices are very common in Senegal where practically everyone, especially Muslims, has a spiritual guide.

If the use of mystical or occult practices would succeed in the football domain, it will still be almost impossible to upstage wrestling as the country’s most popular sport.

During wrestling matches, the players are allowed to bring their spiritual guides to the stadiums along with several kilogrammes of charms and paraphernalia.

It then takes nearly an hour for the player or wrestler to get dressed with several amulets and wash with milk and water that is specially prepared by the witch their spiritual guides.

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