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

Tags: #Curse ,   #Benfica ,   #FIFAWorldCup ,   #MickJagger

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2021-07-23 13:34:24

Many athletes and fans are very superstitious, and most of the time, that looks rather silly. However, in rare cases, 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. This time we'll examine some of the worst sports-related curses, as some of them are 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 and won just one 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 that suffers 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, as it gives 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, only to see them eliminated 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 at 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, Croatians won in the end. 

Desperate to lift the curse, Jagger violated security rules to jet from France to London and watch 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 the process. In return, they threw a curse, promising that Derby County will 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 in the world. 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 it happened 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 curses. However, the most unlikely of them started after the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Since then, every champion coming from Europe failed to qualify from the group stages in the next World Cup! So far, this 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. Of course, they need to qualify first, but that wasn't ever a problem for the title holders.

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, a number of strange incidents made sure that all their campaigns end up as failures. Finally, the curse broke in 2016 when the Cubs not only qualified for the World Series but 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 ten finals and is yet to win another title.

Currently, there's only one surviving member of the 1951 team, Paddy Prendergast. 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 current professional team in San Diego is MLB's San Diego Padres, one of only 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 curses bring attention to many teams, we doubt their owners are happy about it. However, as we've seen, many of these curses ended or were made up decades after they supposedly happened. Still, as one curse ends, another one 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 of the cursed teams?

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