Top 10 Sports-Related Curses, With Some of Them Still Alive

Tags: #Benfica ,   #MickJagger ,   #WorldCup ,   #Cursed

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2023-05-16 06:00:07

Many athletes and fans are very superstitious, and most of the time, that looks rather silly. However, teams may suffer decades of tragic defeats, branding them cursed. Even if you don't believe in bad luck, you'll be fascinated by strings of unfortunate events. Furthermore, these coincidences impacted not only the team but often the whole city, region, or nation. Therefore we'll examine the top ten sport-related curses, with some still alive. 

10. Cruz Azul and the Bloody Finale

Victory that made Cruz Azul suffer for 24 years

At the end of 1997, Mexican football clubs Cruz Azul and Club León played a title-decider. In a very rough match, Cruz Azul's star Carlos Hermosillo scored a winning penalty kick, giving his club the title. However, as he did it while bleeding profoundly, many believe that he cursed the team. Since then, Cruz Azul has suffered many finals defeats but won CONCACAF Champions League. However, they couldn't win the league.

The situation got so humiliating that Mexicans now use the term "Cruzazulear" for every team suffering a defeat in the game's last minutes. However, this story has a happy ending, as Cruz Azul finally won the title in 2021.

9. Mick Jagger Curse

Mick Jagger has a special nickname in Brazil because of his bad luck

Teams love when superstars cheer for them, giving them additional publicity. Plus, you would think that having such an icon as Mick Jagger on your side provides you extra credibility. However, no one is happy when the legendary rocker supports them. It all started in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, when Jagger backed the USA, watching them lose against Ghana. Unfortunately, the same continued in the 2014 World Cup when he twice wished good luck to England, as they lost both times. However, his biggest achievement came in the same competition, as he came to the semifinals to support Brazil against Germany. Nevertheless, the Germans won 7-1, as the host nation suffered the worst disaster in their history. Finally, in 2018 he was in Russia, once again supporting England in the semifinals. However, the Croatians won in the end.  

Desperate to lift the curse, Jagger violated security rules to jet from France to London and watched England beat Denmark in the 2020 UEFA EURO. Still, someone could say that this victory only made English fans suffer more because of the tragic defeat in the following final. As for Mick, he's not the only superstar believed to bring bad luck. Just ask Taylor Swift, who had her banner removed from the Staples Center!

8. Derby County and the Gypsy Curse

The day that the curse was broken!

Founded in 1884, Derby County is one of the oldest football clubs in the world. However, in 1889 they started building a stadium, forcefully removing local Gypsies. In return, they threw a curse, promising that Derby County would never win the FA Cup. Of course, no one cared about it, at least until the failures kept happening again and again.

From 1896 to 1903, Derby County managed to reach the final four an impressive six times, including three finals. However, they indeed never won. In 1946, the team again played for the title, but not before a meeting with Gypsies, hoping they would lift the curse. And indeed, the ball burst during the match as a sign that the hex is no more. In the end, Derby won 4-1 to lift the trophy.

7. Scotland's Never-Ending Agony

Scotland gave us one of the best World Cup goals ever!

To be honest, Scotland's men's national football team was never among the strongest. Nevertheless, they managed to qualify for eight FIFA World Cups and three European Championships, sometimes quite easily. While they were never title contenders, it's mind-blowing that they've never succeeded to go beyond the first round! Sometimes, they were unlucky, going home without a defeat, as in 1974.

Unfortunately, the women's team didn't fare much better. In 2015 and 2019, they qualified for the event but couldn't move to the knockout stage. It seems that very low scoring is the biggest problem for the nation, especially at the UEFA EURO. In nine games, Scotland scored only five times!

6. New York Jets Super Bowl Curse

Was it worth it selling your soul?

It's not unusual for athletes to be confident to the point of arrogance. Still, no one understood why Joe Namath was such an optimist before the 1969 Super Bowl III. His New York Jets were heavy underdogs against the Baltimore Colts, but they won the famous trophy in the end. Since then, the team suffered something far worse than the Madden curse, as they didn't even reach the title-deciding game.

As the story goes, Joe Namath was so desperate to win in 1969 that he made a pact with the Devil, even though it meant that the Jets would never win anything again. Still, many found it strange that he stayed in New York for seven more years, knowing that the team was cursed. However, maybe that was also a part of the deal with Satan?

5. The Tragedy of European World Cup Champions

Germany is the latest world champion suffering the World Cup curse

Euro nations are the most successful at FIFA World Cups, but they often suffer from strange sport-related curses. However, the most unlikely one started after the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Since then, every European World Cup champion has failed to qualify from the group stages in the next World Cup! So far, this has affected France, Italy, Spain, and finally Germany in 2018. As France is the current world champion, they will have a chance to end the curse in 2022.

Another famous FIFA World Cup curse is related to the third-placed European teams. From 1974 until 2008, they never managed to qualify for the next edition of the European Championship.

4. Billy the Goat

The Story about the Chicago Cubs Curse

The 1945 season looked excellent for the Chicago Cubs as they entered the World Series. However, the problems started once William Sianis, the local Billy Goat Tavern owner, was thrown out of the stadium. The problem wasn't that he brought his pet goat to the game but that the animal didn't smell nice, to be polite. Feeling humiliated, Mr. Sianis created a curse by telling everyone that The Cubs won't ever reach another World Series.

Despite leading the series, The Cubs lost the championship, and after that, their struggles began. During the next 70 years, the team couldn't win the National League pennant, even though sometimes considered a heavy favorite. However, several strange incidents ensured that all their campaigns were failures. Finally, the curse broke in 2016 when the Cubs qualified for the World Series and won it. It should be noted that even William Sianis and his nephew tried to break the curse numerous times with others, including a Greek Orthodox priest.

3. The Funeral Curse

Paddy Prendergast believes that the curse story is only a myth

In 1951, Mayo won their third Gaelic Football Championship, but the legends say they were cursed the day it happened. As they were going back home, they celebrated loudly, failing to respect a funeral cortège. The story goes that a local priest cursed the team, never to win anything until the last member of it dies. In the meantime, it took Mayo 38 years to reach the final once again, but this resulted in a defeat. The struggles continued, as the team lost a string of eleven finals and is yet to win another title.

The last surviving member of the 1951 team, Paddy Prendergast, died shortly after Mayo lost another final in 2021. However, in the 2016 documentary, he dismissed the curse, claiming that the whole story is made up. In his defense, the curse legend started to circulate in the nineties, as the team kept losing finals. Mayo officials also called this nonsense, although it does bring attention to the team.

2. San Diego Never Wins Anything

Will it ever get better for San Diego?

Because of the salary caps and other rules, it seems that sooner or later, every major city will win a championship, at least in one professional sport. Well, maybe except for San Diego! While the team never had an NHL franchise, they did have two NBA teams (Rockets and Clippers), but they never won while in the city. The NFL's Chargers also had a 55-year tenure before they were tired of not winning and moved to Los Angeles in 2016.

Finally, the only professional team in San Diego is MLB's San Diego Padres, one of six teams never to win a World Series. To be honest, the San Diego Chargers did win a championship in 1963, but this was in the AFL, years before it merged with the NFL.

1. FC Benfica European Curse

No one suffers as much as FC Benfica

In the early 1960s, Benfica was the best football club in the world. Led by manager Béla Guttmann, they won five titles in only four years. These included two European Champions trophies, with the last one coming in 1962. Believing that he deserved more, Guttmann then asked for a pay rise but was instead sacked. At this moment, he promised the team they won't become the best in Europe in the next 100 years!

Sixty years have passed since, and it sounds astonishing that the team lost five European Cup/Champions League finals and even three other European finals. Even their youth team lost all three deciding matches, for a total of 11 in a row. Many tried to lift the curse, including Benfica's best player ever, Eusébio. Before the 1990 European Cup Final, he visited Guttman's grave, praying for forgiveness. However, it didn't work.

While the sport-related curses bring attention to many teams, we doubt their owners are happy about it. However, as seen on our top ten list, many of these curses ended or were made up decades after they supposedly happened. Still, as one curse ends, another rises, as superstition is almost impossible to eradicate.

What are some of your favorite curses in sports? Do you believe that athletes perform better or worse when playing for some supposedly cursed teams?



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