The Dark Side of Football: How Witch Doctors Con Players Out of Thousands

Footballers Duped by Witch Doctors: A Dark Spell

Cheated: Gilles Yapi Yapo in action in a Champions League qualifier in 2012

Former Ivory Coast international football star, Gilles Yapi Yapo, recently revealed his harrowing experience of being deceived by a witch doctor. Yapi Yapo, now 41 and managing a team in the Swiss second division, lost a staggering 200,000 euros ($213,000) under the influence of a traditional healer, also known as a marabout.

Yapi Yapo explained that he was going through a tough period while playing for the French Ligue 1 side Nantes when his uncle recommended he seek help from a healer in Paris. Although initially skeptical, Yapi Yapo believed that consulting a marabout was a normal practice in Ivory Coast where he grew up, as long as it didn’t involve causing harm to others.

According to the witch doctor, his family was cursed, preventing him from finding success and happiness. To counteract these curses, the healer prescribed various sacrifices, starting with a cock, goat, or ram, which began at 500 euros and continuously escalated to hefty sums. However, things took a sinister turn when Yapi Yapo was lured by promises of wealth and riches through black magic.

Potions used by faith healers

“The marabout made me believe that the spirits he worked for liked me and wanted to make me rich,” Yapi Yapo disclosed. “That was the bait.” Eventually, the witch doctor even suggested sacrificing his own son if he couldn’t afford the exorbitant costs of the rituals. It was at this point that Yapi Yapo mustered the strength to break free from the clutches of the marabout.

Over the course of two years, Yapi Yapo was conned into paying a total of 200,000 euros without receiving any positive outcome in return. The footballer admitted that he had lost the ability to think clearly while under the spell of the marabout, but his Christian faith ultimately empowered him to put an end to the manipulation.

Joel Thibault, an evangelical pastor who has worked with numerous top athletes in France, has witnessed the disastrous consequences of footballers and basketball players falling prey to similar circumstances. To his knowledge, some clubs even facilitate trips to Senegal for players to seek treatment from witch doctors when conventional medical practitioners fail. These players often return wearing amulets and protection belts.

Flyers used by faith healers in Paris to drum up business

Thibault emphasized the escalating danger posed by such practices, with players being coerced into making more sacrifices and paying greater sums as things spiral out of control. He has encountered players who suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts due to the psychological impact of these experiences.

Cisse Baratte, another Ivory Coast-born footballer, shared a similar nightmarish tale. When he joined a top club in Abidjan at the age of 16, he fell into the trap of seeking the assistance of witch doctors to enhance his performance and protect himself from jealousy. Baratte, now 55, resorted to taking showers with potions, undergoing sacrifices, and wearing a leather protection belt inscribed with verses from the Koran. He continued consulting witch doctors during his European career in the 1990s, blaming every injury or setback on his failure to follow their rituals diligently.

Pastor Joel Thibault, a chaplain to many top athletes

In the dressing rooms, Baratte noticed that teammates from Senegal or Cameroon also resorted to using “protection,” such as perfumes or belts worn beneath their jerseys.

The infamous Paul Pogba extortion case further highlights the severity of this problem, especially with the growing amount of money in football. Pogba, a French World Cup winner, was accused by his brother and a childhood friend of paying a witch doctor to cast a spell on his teammate Kylian Mbappe. While both Pogba and the marabout denied the allegations to the police, this incident exposed the public to the sinister influence of witch doctors in the sport.

Thibault revealed that players have even postponed anti-doping tests until they have consulted their trusted marabouts. Consequently, the problem has become more widely known. The witch doctor community has expressed feeling stigmatized due to the negative attention brought about by the Pogba case. They emphasize the need to differentiate between those who cast spells and those who genuinely aim to help.

Regrettably, as long as players continue seeking shortcuts to success, the influence of witch doctors within the game will persist, lamented Yapi Yapo.