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The bewitched footballers: Players who succumbed to witch doctors’ spell

Gilles Yapi Yapo, a former Ivory Coast international footballer, was scammed out of 200,000 euros ($213,000) by a witch doctor. “You are like a slave,” the 41-year-old said of his two years experience with the marabout, “and it can be really damaging.” Yapi Yapo was referred to the healer in Paris while struggling with a French Ligue 1 team. He wasn’t initially attracted to the occult but stated that it was normal in the Ivory Coast to visit a marabout. The marabout told him he was cursed and needed to make sacrifices to counteract the curses. Yapi Yapo was encouraged by the marabout who claimed the spirits wanted to make him rich. He was coerced into sacrificing 40,000 to 60,000 euros and was told he would have to sacrifice his son when he ran out of money. He paid 200,000 euros with nothing positive in return and was manipulated into a spiral where he lost the ability to think clearly. He credits his Christian faith for giving him the strength to end the marabout’s hold on him.ennonifiedninguento.Joel Thibault, an evangelical pastor to several top athletes in France, said many clubs allow players to visit healers after injuries. Thibault dealt with athletes who had been coerced into making sacrifices at various levels of financial strain. He mentioned seeing players depressed and suicidal. Another Ivory Coast footballer, Cisse Baratte, fell into the same trap and became dependent on witch doctors. Baratte got injured frequently and put it down to not using the potions at the right time. He found it strange that teammates from Senegal and Cameroon also had similar potions and protection belts.  Thibault mentioned the Paul Pogba extortion case and said the problem is becoming more serious with the increasing monetary value in football. Thibault was also told that players were unable to complete anti-doping tests until they’d consulted with their marabout. Several healers were upset about being stigmatized by the headlines from the Pogba case and stated that their profession has been damaged. Monsieur Fakoly, a Guinean-born healer, said people need to differentiate between witch doctors who cast spells and healers who help. Yapi Yapo said that as long as players seek shortcuts to success, the influence of witch doctors on the game will not stop.