Sports-related curses

A sports-related curse is a superstitious belief in the effective action of some malevolent power, that is used to explain the failures or misfortunes of specific sports teams, players, or even cities. Teams, players, and cities often cite a "curse" for many negative things, such as their inability to win a sports championship, or unexpected injuries.

American football[edit]

Detroit Lions[edit]

In 1958, the Detroit Lions traded Bobby Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers, with Layne responding to the trade by supposedly saying that the Lions would "not win for 50 years".[1] The veracity of this story has been disputed, particularly because the quote was never published at the time.[2]

Despite this, in the 50 years after the trade, the Lions accumulated the worst winning percentage of the 12 teams in the National Football League (NFL) at the time, and are still one of only two franchises that were in the NFL prior to 1966 that have not yet played in the Super Bowl.[3] The Lions' lone playoff win, prior to the current 2023–24 season, came against the Dallas Cowboys following the 1991 season.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers won their fifth Super Bowl championship in 2006, they won it at Ford Field, the Lions' current home stadium. Two years later – in the last year of the supposed curse – the Steelers won their sixth Super Bowl championship, while the Lions finished 0–16, the first team to lose every game of a 16-game season.

Kirk Cousins[edit]

The Kirk Cousins curse refers to a curse in which a NFL team who has lost to quarterback Kirk Cousins has failed to win a Super Bowl since he entered the league in 2012. The curse first started to take effect in 2016 when Cousins, as a member of the Washington Redskins (now the Washington Commanders) have defeated the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants. The Giants would go on to lose 38–13 in the wild card to the Packers, and the Packers went on to lose the NFC Championship game to the Atlanta Falcons.[4]

In 2023, the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers lost to Cousins in the regular season. The Packers were eliminated by the 49ers, and the curse nearly took effect for the 49ers in the NFC Championship game against the Detroit Lions when they trailed 24–7 before rallying to win the game. With the win, the 49ers became the first team to lose to Kirk Cousins in the regular season and reach the Super Bowl.[5] However, the 49ers lost Super Bowl LVIII to the Kansas City Chiefs, keeping the curse fully intact.[6]

Madden NFL[edit]

Prior to 1999, every annual installment of the Madden NFL video game franchise primarily featured John Madden on its cover. In 1999, Electronic Arts selected San Francisco 49ers running back Garrison Hearst to appear on the PAL version's cover, and has since featured one of the league's top players on every annual installment despite Madden's opposition. While appearing on the cover has become an honor akin to appearing on the Wheaties box, much like the Sports Illustrated cover jinx, certain players who appeared on the Madden video game box art have experienced a decline in performance, usually due to an injury.[7]

Super Bowl[edit]

The Super Bowl curse or Super Bowl hangover is a phrase referring to one of two things that occur in the National Football League (NFL): Super Bowl participant clubs that follow up with lower-than-expected performance the following year, and NFL teams that do not repeat as Super Bowl champions.

The phrase has been used to explain both why losing teams may post below-average winning percentages in the following year and why Super Bowl champions seldom return to the title game the following year. The term has been used since at least 1992, when The Washington Post commented that "the Super Bowl Curse has thrown everything it's got at the Washington Redskins. The Jinx that has bedeviled defending champs for 15 years has never been in better form".[8] The phenomenon is attributed by football commentator and former NFL manager Charley Casserly to such elements as "a shorter offseason, contract issues, [and] more demand for your players' time".[9] Casserly also notes that "once the season starts, you become the biggest game on everybody's schedule."[9] Alleged curse notwithstanding, multiple teams have indeed repeated as Super Bowl champions, including the Green Bay Packers in the first two Super Bowls, the Pittsburgh Steelers twice in the 1970s, the Miami Dolphins also in the 1970s, the San Francisco 49ers in 1989 and 1990, the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s, the Denver Broncos also in the 1990s, the New England Patriots in the 2000s, and the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2020s. Additionally, there are multiple cases of teams reaching the conference championship or further up to four times in a row, including the 1990s Cowboys and Buffalo Bills, the 2000s Philadelphia Eagles, early 2010s San Francisco 49ers, the late 2010s-early 2020s Kansas City Chiefs (the latter two coached by Andy Reid), and most notably the 2010s New England Patriots who went to 8 straight AFC title games from 2011 through 2018, including three straight Super Bowl appearances from 2016 to 2018 winning two of them (Super Bowl LI) at the end of the 2016 season and Super Bowl LIII following the 2018 season.

Association football[edit]

Aaron Ramsey[edit]

Online users and tabloid journalists have written of a "Curse of Ramsey", in which celebrities die within hours or days of Welsh footballer Aaron Ramsey scoring regardless of where he plays. The phenomenon has been brought up after high-profile deaths such as those of Ted Kennedy, Osama bin Laden, Muammar Gaddafi, Steve Jobs, Whitney Houston, Robin Williams, Paul Walker, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Nancy Reagan,[10] Kenneth Kaunda, Chester Bennington, Tommy Smith, Gregg Allman, Roger Moore, Stephen Hawking, Eric Bristow, Burt Reynolds, Mac Miller, Jimmy Buffett, George H. W. Bush, Keith Flint, Luke Perry, Gugu Liberato, Hosni Mubarak, Max von Sydow, June Brown, Olivia Newton-John, Steve Harwell, Elizabeth II, Bray Wyatt, etc., coming in short time periods after every match where Ramsey scored.

Alianza Lima[edit]

Since 2000, teams that have drawn with Peruvian outfit Alianza Lima will not become the champions of Copa Libertadores, a fear that has become popularised by Argentine media since 2020s as the "curse of Alianza" and has since become trend among South American football fans that any teams that face Alianza from the group stage are doomed not to win the most prestigious South American trophy.[11] River Plate came closest in breaking the curse, but lost to Flamengo 2–1 in the 2019 Copa Libertadores Final.[12]

Argentina national team (The curse of Tilcara)[edit]

Before the 1986 FIFA World Cup, the Argentina national football team’s manager Carlos Bilardo, along with the players found a place called Tilcara, in which to prepare for the tournament. Bilardo prayed to the Virgin of Copacabana and promised that if Argentina won the World Cup, they would come back and thank the virgin for his work. Argentina went on to win the World Cup a month later but Bilardo and his team did not keep their promise.[13]

Their ungratefulness was believed to have led to a curse, which started during the 1990 FIFA World Cup, where Argentina lost to Cameroon in a shock surprise upset. They did go on to reach the final but were defeated by West Germany.

From then, Argentina were knocked out of further World Cups, starting with Romania in the 1994 round of 16, the 1998 quarter-finals against the Netherlands, 2002 in the group stage, three defeats to Germany in the quarter-finals in 2006 and 2010 and the 2014 final and against France in the 2018 round of 16. Their Copa América campaigns did not fare much better after the 1993 edition, where they were runners-up four times in 2004, 2007, 2015 and 2016 and finished third in 2019, as well as being humiliatingly eliminated by Uruguay in the 2011 quarter-finals on home soil.

Bilardo attempted to deny any involvement, but the local populace confirmed the team's arrival, angering a portion of Argentine fans who accused the 1986 winners of betraying their promises.[14][15] Because of this, the remaining players of the 1986 squad would eventually return to Tilcara in March 2018 to redeem for their failure to honour the promises and asked for forgiveness.[16] Afterwards, Argentina won three major tournaments in a row: the 2021 Copa América, the 2022 Finalissima and the 2022 FIFA World Cup, finally breaking the curse.

Australia national team[edit]

In a story told in Johnny Warren's 2002 autobiography, Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters,[17] during a trip to play against Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in the 1970 Mexico World Cup qualifiers in Mozambique, members of the Australia national soccer team (nicknamed the "Socceroos"), including Warren, consulted a witch doctor preceding their game. The witch doctor buried bones near the goal-posts and cursed the opposition, and Australia went on to beat Rhodesia 3–1 in the decider. However, the move backfired when the players could not come up with the £1000 demanded by the witch doctor as payment, so he cursed their team instead. Subsequently, the Socceroos failed to beat Israel and did not qualify.

Whilst the curse is used as an explanation for Australia failing to qualify for the World Cup for 32 years, including in the last match in the 1994, 1998 and 2002 qualifications, it is used in particular reference to the circumstances in which they failed to qualify for the 1998 tournament: needing a win against Iran in the final match of qualification, they drew 2–2, despite having led 2–0 in the second half of the match.

The curse was lifted by John Safran during episode 7 of his 2004 TV series John Safran vs God. After reading the story in Warren's book, Safran travelled to Mozambique and hired a new witch doctor to channel the original to reverse the curse. The following year, the Socceroos not only qualified for the 2006 World Cup, but reached the round of 16 before being beaten by eventual champions Italy in Kaiserslautern. The Socceroos have since qualified for the 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022 World Cups, with the latter saw Australia's most successful World Cup performance up to date. Interestingly, the two most recent qualifications saw Australia triumphed at the play-offs despite the harsh opponents they faced (Honduras in 2018 and Peru in 2022).

Australia did appear in the 1974 FIFA World Cup after the curse had been placed. However, they failed to score a goal in any of their three opening round matches, and were eliminated.[18]

Bayer Leverkusen[edit]

German Bundesliga club Bayer 04 Leverkusen were given the nicknames "Neverkusen",[19] "Vizekusen" (vize meaning "second" in German) and "Bridesmaid of Europe" for its record during the 1990s to 2000s of reaching finals of major tournaments but failing to win, or finishing runner-up in the league. Bayer were runners-up in the Bundesliga for three out of four seasons between 1998–99 and 2001–02 and as of the 2022–23 season, not to win the title. The nicknames were popularised after the 2001–02 season when the club finished runner-up in the two major domestic competitions (league and cup) and the Champions League. Additionally, the German national team which finished runner-up to Brazil at the 2002 FIFA World Cup featured five Leverkusen players. However, after years of struggling to get more wins in the Bundesliga, Leverkusen finally won their first league title in its history in the 2023–24 Bundesliga season, thus finally ending the Neverkusen curse.[20]


Béla Guttmann, a former Hungarian footballer and then manager, joined Benfica in 1959 and coached the Portuguese club to two Primeira Liga titles, one Portuguese Cup and two European Cups. In 1962, after his second European Cup title, he reportedly asked for a pay raise but had his request turned down despite the great success he achieved at the Lisbon club, also having his contract terminated. Then, he allegedly said: "Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champions." Benfica has appeared in five European Cup/UEFA Champions League finals and three UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League finals since 1962 and did not win any.[21][22] In the UEFA Youth League, Benfica's under-19 team lost three finals before winning the competition in 2021–22, thus reportedly breaking the curse that season.[23][24][25] However, according to some news reports in 2023, the curse is yet to be broken.[26][27][28]

The veracity of the curse is disputed, as in April 1963, in an interview to A Bola, Guttmann stated: "Benfica, at this moment, are well served and do not need me. They will win the Campeonato Nacional and will be champions of Europe again."[29][25] According to David Bolchover, in his biography of Guttmann, the alleged curse was first mentioned in May 1988 by newspaper Gazeta dos Desportos, the day Benfica played their sixth European final.[25] The curse had its origins in March 1968 when A Bola published a loose and unsigned translation from German to Portuguese of an interview given by Guttmann to Sport-Illustrierte five months earlier, in October 1967.[25] Moreover, in November 2011, Eusébio, who was coached by Guttmann, also denied the existence of the curse, calling it a "lie".[25]

Birmingham City[edit]

According to legend, Romani people put a 100-year curse on St Andrew's in 1906

English football side Birmingham City F.C. played 100 years under an alleged curse from 1906 to 2006.[30] As the legend goes, the club moved from nearby Muntz Street into its current location at St Andrew's, building the stadium on land that was being used by the Romani people. After they were forced to move, the angry Romani people put a 100-year hex on the stadium.[31]

Throughout the years many Birmingham City managers would try to remove the curse but with little success. Former manager Ron Saunders tried to banish the curse in the 1980s by placing crucifixes on floodlights and painting the bottom of his players' boots red.[32] Another manager, Barry Fry, in charge from 1993 to 1996, urinated in all four corners of the pitch[33] after a clairvoyant said it would break the spell. On Boxing Day 2006 the curse was finally lifted and on that day Birmingham City celebrated a 2–1 win over Queens Park Rangers F.C. Just over four years after the alleged curse ended, Birmingham City finally won the first major final in their history – beating Arsenal 2–1 to win the 2010–11 Football League Cup.[34] Birmingham City were relegated to the Football League Championship later that season, and have not been promoted back to the Premier League since.

Brazil's World Cup European knockout curse[edit]

After winning the 2002 FIFA World Cup against Germany, Brazil has been eliminated in every subsequent edition by a European team in the knock-out stage of the tournament, having lost to France in 2006,[35] Netherlands in 2010,[36] Germany in 2014,[37] Belgium in 2018,[38] and Croatia in 2022.[39] Additionally, four of these five losses (except in 2014, where they lost humiliatingly by 7–1 at home to Germany in the semi-finals) were in the quarterfinals.[40][41][42]

At the same time, European teams that beat Brazil also suffered the bitter effect of the curse, as they either failed to progress in the next World Cup knockouts, or even failed to qualify for the tournament, making Brazil a rare case of being a victim and also a perpetrator of the curse. France, after beating Brazil both in 1998 and 2006, were eliminated from both the 2002 and 2010 edition from the group stage after a dismal performance.[43] The Netherlands managed to survive for both the 2010 and 2014 edition and even finished third, including a win over Brazil in process for the second consecutive World Cup,[44] only to fail to qualify for the 2018 edition.[45] Germany, after inflicting the famous 7–1 win over Brazil in 2014, went on to finish bottom in the group stage of a World Cup for the first-time since 1938 and failed to advance in the 2018 tournament knockout stage.[46] Belgium beat Brazil in 2018 World Cup but subsequently failed to advance in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, picking only four points in the group stage due to poor performance.[47]

Cruz Azul (Comizzo–Hermosillo’s blood curse)[edit]

Origins of the curse began during the final of the Mexican League winter tournament in 1997, contested between Cruz Azul and Club León in a two-legged match.[48][49] At the time they were the 3rd and fourth teams with the most league championships in Mexico respectively. Both teams were tied until the last moments of the second leg when Leon's goalkeeper Ángel Comizzo kicked Cruz Azul's star striker Carlos Hermosillo in the face, causing Hermosillo to bleed profusely inside the penalty area, leading to a foul and a penalty kick in Cruz Azul's favor. As the penalty was given, the referee asked Hermosillo to wipe the blood from his face, but Hermosillo ignored him and took the penalty kick, scoring a late winner. Cruz Azul became league champion for the eighth time in club history, but fans believed that both teams were cursed by the blood.[50] Leon was then relegated to an inferior league in 2002 but since 2012 they were promoted back to the now-renamed Liga MX (formerly Primera División) and would later become back-to-back league champions after defeating Club América in the 2013 Apertura playoffs, breaking their part of the curse.

On the other hand, Cruz Azul had lost several finals in the Mexican league, the CONCACAF Champions League, and the Copa Libertadores, many of them at the last minute, which had their part in the curse hold true. While Cruz Azul won the 2013 Clausura edition of the Copa MX and the CONCACAF Champions League in 2014, the club had yet to win their first league championship since 1997. Their multiple losses and inability to win any league championship has rival club fans bestow Cruz Azul with the mock title "Sub-Campeonísimos" (literally "Supreme Runner ups".) [51][52][53] Additionally, the term "'Cruzazulear'" (Cruzazul-ing) was coined to describe whenever the team (or any team in general) loses in a humiliating fashion at the last minutes.[54] The word is now in observation by the Royal Spanish Academy[55]

The "curse" was eventually broken at the end of the 2021 Clausura finals, when Cruz Azul defeated Santos Laguna 2–1 on aggregate, thus achieving their first league title in over 23 years, and ninth overall.

Derby County F.C.[edit]

English football side Derby County were placed under a curse by a group of Romani Gypsies who were forced to move from a camp so that they could build their stadium, the Baseball Ground. The curse was that Derby County would never win the FA Cup.[56] This mirrors the curse placed on Birmingham City F.C.

Despite reaching six FA Cup semi-finals between 1896 and 1903, including three finals, they never managed to win the trophy. The next time they reached the final was in 1946 against Charlton Athletic. In the buildup to the final, a representative from the club went to meet with Gypsies in an attempt to lift the curse.[56] During the match, with the score tied at 1–1, the ball burst. It has since been seen by fans of the club as the moment the curse was lifted.[56] Derby County went on to win the match 4–1.

England national team[edit]

Prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup England hadn't won a game on a penalty shootout since 1996. The curse was broken with a penalty victory against Colombia in the 2018 World Cup round of 16. Subsequently, England lost the UEFA Euro 2020 final to Italy in a penalty shootout. In the following major tournament, the 2022 FIFA World Cup, England captain Harry Kane missed a late penalty which could have tied their quarter-final match against France. England ended up losing 2–1.[57]

In addition, England suffered a 56-yearlong curse in which their senior teams, both male and female, were unable to win a major tournament, often in heartbreaking circumstances. The men's team were beaten on penalties by West Germany in the semifinals of the 1990 FIFA World Cup, and by the now reunified Germany in the 1996 European Championship. They would also lose on penalties to Italy in the quarter final of UEFA Euro 2012, and the final of UEFA Euro 2020.

In addition to this, they would suffer some extremely humiliating early tournament defeats, such as finishing bottom of their World Cup group with 1 point in 2014, and being knocked out by rank outsiders Iceland in the UEFA Euro 2016 last 16.

The women's team would suffer final defeats in the UEFA European Championships in 1984 and 2009, and would also suffer heartbreaking semi final defeats in the FIFA World Cup in 2015 and 2019, as well as in the semi finals of the 2017 UEFA European Championships (although they did break a long-standing curse by beating France at this tournament).

The curse was finally broken in 2022, when England Women beat Germany 2–1 after extra time in the UEFA European Championship final.

European World Cup champions' curse[edit]

Starting in 2002, European winners of the FIFA World Cup have frequently been eliminated in the group stages of the next World Cup.[58][59][60][61] As of 2018, Germany became the third World Champion in a row to bow out at the group stages of the World Cup,[60][62][63] and the fourth in five competitions.[64]

The curse was broken in 2022 when the 2018 winners France (who started the curse themselves) qualified for the Round of 16 after finishing first in their group. Later, they advanced to the final for a 4th time, trying to be the first team since Brazil in 1962 to successfully defend the World Cup, but they lost to the eventual winners Argentina in a penalty shootout.[71][72][73]

FIFA cover curse[edit]

Appearing on the cover of EA's popular FIFA video game series has sometimes been said to represent a curse, with players experiencing injury, poor form or other controversies in the year following their appearance on the cover. Of course, as with the Madden and Sports Illustrated cover jinx, a player who appears on the cover of FIFA is likely to be at the peak of his career, so there is only one way to go from there — downward. Allegedly cursed players include:

FIFA Women's World Cup hosts' quarter-finals curse[edit]

Since the first edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup in 1991, it is believed that a curse exists for every host country when they reached the quarter-finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup, with five out of eight hosts failed in the last eight, except for the United States (which hosted the 1999 and 2003 editions and also the most successful one). This pattern began with China losing to Sweden in 1991, before losing again in the same stage to Norway in 2007. Sweden, as hosts of the 1995 tournament, lost to China after penalties. Germany, meanwhile, suffered the most shocking quarter-finals elimination by far, losing to Japan after extra times despite being the defending champions and hosts of the 2011 edition. Canada, hosts of the 2015 edition, fell to England in the same stage. France, hosts of the 2019 edition, were eliminated by the United States in the last eight. Recently, one of the two host nations of the 2023 edition, New Zealand, didn't even make it out of the group stage.[76]

The quarter-finals curse was finally broken by Australia, the other co-host nation at the 2023 tournament, on the penalty shootout (7–6) at the quarter-finals against France, the host nation at the previous tournament after an intense encounter.[77] The Matildas went on to finish in 4th place, their best-ever run at the Women's World Cup.

Harry Kane's trophy curse[edit]

It is widely believed that English footballer Harry Kane has a curse that denies him from winning any trophies. Despite being regarded as one of the best strikers in the world, Kane has never won a senior trophy in his career, neither for club or country. During his 11 years at Tottenham Hotspur, he helped the club reach the finals of the 2015 and 2021 editions of the League Cup, as well as their first UEFA Champions League final in 2019. However, Tottenham would finish runner-up in all 3 finals. Despite becoming Spurs's all-time top goalscorer, Kane was never able to win a senior trophy with the club. With England, he helped the team to reach the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where they were knocked out by Croatia, and the finals of UEFA Euro 2020, where they lost to Italy in a penalty shoot-out. He also infamously missed a penalty against France in the 84th minute of the quarter finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which led to England's elimination in the tournament.

The belief got further intensified in the 2023-24 season, when Harry Kane joined Bayern Munich during the summer. At the time of his signing, Bayern had won 11 consecutive Bundesliga titles since 2013 and had not had a trophyless season since the 2011-12 season. On his debut, he lost the DFL-Supercup final 3–0 to RB Leipzig. The club then lost in the DFB-Pokal's second round against 3rd division side 1.FC Saarbrücken. On 14 April 2024, Bayern's run of 11 consecutive titles came to an end as Bayer Leverkusen were mathematically confirmed as champions of Germany for the first time in their history after a 5-0 home win against Werder Bremen. Finally, Bayern were knocked out of the Champions League semi-finals by Real Madrid on 8 May, going trophyless for the first time in 12 years.[78][79]

Hibernian F.C.[edit]

Scottish football side Hibernian endured a 114-year wait to win their third Scottish Cup, eventually doing so against Rangers in the 2016 final. Prior to this success, Hibs had lost ten Scottish Cup finals[80] in a drought stretching back to 1902. Hibernian's hoodoo was made all the more noteworthy by their relative success in other major Scottish footballing honours - the Leith side won four league titles and three league cups whilst remaining fruitless in their search for Scottish Cup glory. In spite of remaining a prominent force within Scottish football and building notoriously excellent sides such as the Famous Five and Turnbull's Tornadoes, Hibs were for so long unable to lift the oldest trophy in world football.[81]

Some Hibs fans attributed the absence of Scottish Cup success to a curse which a gypsy woman allegedly placed upon the club during the chairmanship of Harry Swan.[82] Whilst renovation works were being carried out at Hibernian's Easter Road stadium in the 1950s, a harp crest – which had been displayed on the South Stand symbolising Hibernian's founding Irish roots – was removed and subsequently did not reappear when work had finished.[83] During the 2015–16 season, Hibs' modern day badge (which includes the harp) was placed upon the facade of the West Stand at Easter Road.[84] Less than eight months after the harp had been reinstated onto the walls of Easter Road, Hibernian were once again Scottish Cup winners after more than a century in the making.[85]

Iran national team[edit]

Iran has played in the World Cup for the first time in 1978 and has been a historically strong force in Asian football, but Iran has always fallen short since 1979. The national team, since 1979, has qualified for five other World Cup editions, but failed to progress from the group stage in all occasion; in the AFC Asian Cup, Iran's best result since 1979 has been the semi-finals; whereas their clubs have been unable to win the AFC Champions League despite reaching the final three times in that span. It is believed that football in Iran, mainly the national team, has been cursed due to the anti-human actions by the Islamic regime ruling Iran.[86] This came to the forefront when they were eliminated after losing 1–0 to the United States (who they previously beat in 1998) during the 2022 FIFA World Cup,[87] around the same time the Iranian government had made international news for their brutality towards those participating in the Mahsa Amini protests,[88] which also included several players on the team.[89]

Italy's FIFA World Cup curse[edit]

Since Italy's successful 2006 FIFA World Cup run, they have been unable to reach the knockout stage, having failed to qualify for the tournament in 2018 and 2022.[90]

The curse dates all the way back to 2004 after France were eliminated in the Quarter-finals by underdogs Greece. After that Zinedine Zidane announced his retirement after the tournament. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers France were struggling without Zidane in which they suffer poor performances and results from their matches. After Zidane made his comeback to national team, France was on a good fashion as they went on to qualify for the 2006 World Cup. For France they struggled in their group with draws against Switzerland and South Korea respectively but with win against Togo advanced them to the knockouts. Meanwhile, for Italy at Euro 2004 were also eliminated at the group stages, however they did perform better in the qualifiers for the 2006 tournament and went on to qualify it as they won both group games to Ghana and Czech Republic respectively and a draw against the United States in which sent Italy into the knockouts. Both Italy and France qualified for the knockout stage and eventually both teams progressed to the final. A rematch of the UEFA Euro 2000 final, French captain Zinedine Zidane put France ahead with a penalty in the 7th minute. 12 minutes later, Italian defender Marco Materazzi headed in the equaliser for Italy. The game remained level at 1-1 for the remainder of the match, forcing the game into extra time. During the second half of extra time, both goal scorers exchanged words which resulted in Zidane headbutting Materazzi in the chest and being sent off. No further goals were scored, so the final was to be decided via a penalty-shootout. Italy won the shootout 5-3 and were crowned World champions for the 4th time.

Despite Italy winning the tournament, Zinedine Zidane's infamous headbutt to Marco Materazzi in the final is thought to be the leading catalyst of this curse. Italy had a disastrous tournament in 2010 after finishing last place in a group with Paraguay, Slovakia, and New Zealand, of which they were seen as clear favorites.[91] While this was originally perceived to be a result of the European World Cup champions' curse (provided Italy won the previous event), lackluster results in future World Cups have refuted that case. They were knocked out in the group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup by Uruguay and dark horses Costa Rica, with only England below them.[92] In the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification, Italy finished second in their qualifying group, behind Spain, advancing them to the playoff round where they lost 1–0 to Sweden on aggregate and subsequently failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.[93][94] Poor results in Italy's last two group matches of 2022 World Cup qualifying saw them once again take part in the playoffs,[95] this time losing 1–0 against North Macedonia, marking the first time ever that Italy missed the competition twice consecutively.[96][97] These results are only apparent in the FIFA World Cup and FIFA World Cup qualification, as Italy have excelled in other competitions, winning the UEFA European Championship in 2021[98] and finishing runners-up in UEFA Euro 2012, and qualifying for UEFA Nations League Finals in 2021[99] and 2023 finishing 3rd in both respectively.[100]

Japan national team[edit]

Since qualifying to the first World Cup in 1998, Japan national football team have reached the round of 16 four times, but failed to advance past the phase in very agonizing fashions.[101] Japan first reached the last sixteen in 2002, but fell to Turkey by a slight 1–0 margin.[102] In 2010, Japan were eliminated by Paraguay on penalties 5–3 after the game ended goalless.[103] In 2018, Japan were knocked out by Belgium in an agonising style despite having taken a 2–0 lead; the Belgians staged a successful fightback to overturn the deficit in just remaining 20 minutes to win 3–2.[104] In 2022, Japan were eliminated on penalties once again, losing to Croatia 3–1 on the spot after drawing 1–1.[101][105] Three out of the four conquerors of Japan would go on to finish in third place.

On the other hand, teams that beat Japan in the round of 16 of the World Cup also come to suffer bitterly from the effect of the curse, as teams that won against Japan subsequently decline or even fail to qualify for the next World Cup, thus making Japan a rare case of being the victim of a curse and also the one to bring curse on other teams. It's necessary to notice that the effect of Japan curse is not immediate but a rather slow progress. Turkey, after beating Japan in 2002 to win bronze medal, failed to qualify for every World Cup since.[106] Paraguay failed to qualify for every World Cup since 2010 after winning against Japan on penalties.[107] Belgium managed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, but Belgium performed poorly and was eliminated from the group stage.[47]

Leeds United FC[edit]

Don Revie, manager of Leeds United from 1961 to 1974 and known for a having an array of superstitions and phobias, attributed a poor run of results in 1971 to a gypsy curse. The curse was apparently placed when a group of gypsies were evicted from the land upon which the Elland Road stadium was built in 1890. Revie thus invited a fortune teller named Gypsy Rose Lee to Elland Road. She went to all four corners of the pitch, scratched the grass and threw some seeds down, and over a cup of tea afterwards informed Revie that the curse had been lifted.[108]

Liverpool F.C.[edit]

Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar claimed in interviews that the reason why Liverpool hadn't won the league since the 1989–90 season was because a witch-doctor put a curse on the club from ever winning the league in a testimonial match for Grobbelaar in 1992 and that the only way to break the curse was to urinate on the four goalposts at the Anfield. In a December 2019 interview, Grobbelaar revealed to have splashed urine on all four goalposts at Anfield after a charity match in May; he had been caught urinating on the posts at the Kop end in 2014.[109][110] His confession came as Liverpool won the 2019–20 Premier League with 99 points.

Mexico national team[edit]

Cachirules scandal, Round of 16 curse, Game 5 curse, Number 4 curse[edit]

The Mexico national football team were eliminated from every FIFA World Cup at the round of 16 stage from 1994 to 2018, losing to Bulgaria in 1994, Germany in 1998, the United States in 2002, Argentina in 2006 and 2010, Netherlands in 2014, and Brazil in 2018.[111] Mexican fans name it «The curse of the Fifth game» or Quinto Partido, which was believed to be traced from the cachirules scandal, in which four Mexican players were discovered falsifying their age, resulting in Mexico being disqualified from the 1988 Summer Olympics in South Korea, the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship in Saudi Arabia, and the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy – thus the fourth match was believed to be cursed as the result.[112][113]

At the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Mexico did not advance from the group stage after they were eliminated after group play for the first time since 1978. Interestingly, Mexico's elimination in the 2022 World Cup was the first time in 44 years (equivalent to more than four decades), having suffered four games without scoring, began with Mexico's 2–1 win over South Korea (hosts of the 1988 Olympics) in 2018 before finally beating Saudi Arabia (hosts of the 1989 Youth World Cup) by the same scoreline in 2022 – Mexico scored four goals against their Asian opponents, having accumulated four points like Poland but lost on goal difference, which coincided to the number of players that was found guilty for the cachirules scandal, leading to an ironic rumour that the curse might have finally ended for the Mexican side.[114][115] Even more scarily related to the curse, Mexico's former manager in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Gerardo Martino, also achieved 42 wins, 12 draws and 12 losses, with the draws and losses combined to 24, which is a reflection to the cursed number 4 that has plagued Mexico's performance.[116]

At the same time, its association to number 4 is also believed to have played a major role in causing the miseries of the national teams of South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Italy, in particular during 2010s, mainly in the FIFA World Cup where the impact was the most visible. During the span of from the 2010 to 2022 FIFA World Cups, Saudi Arabia and Italy could only qualify for two out of four editions, whereas South Korea only advanced past the group stage in just two out of four FIFA World Cups during this span; this is notable because both South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Italy hosted these above previous tournaments from 1988 to 1990, the span when Mexico was banned due to the cachirules scandal, thus making the Mexican Quinto Partido a rather unique curse for having a more universal impact.[117]

At the 2026 World Cup Mexico as host would be hosting matches for the tournament in which it would marked 40 years since Mexico last advanced into the quarterfinals however 40 years could still plague Mexico performance in the tournament in which the number 4 curse could still be in place around if possible.

Another reference to the curse is that any national team that eliminates Mexico in the knockout stage of the World Cup would suffer elimination in the next round or even lose a final in the tournaments final match making Mexico both the victim and perpetrator of curse (in what is nicknamed "Moctezuma's curse"). At the 1970 World Cup, Mexico as host of the tournament advanced to its first knockout stage where they ended up meeting Italy but lost to Italy in the quarter-finals 4–1. Italy defeated West Germany In the semi-finals. However Italy eventually lost to Brazil at the final in the same scoreline as the quarter-final match making Italy as its first victim. This happened again 16 years later in 1986 where Mexico again as host qualified to the knockout stage where they defeated Bulgaria in the Round of 16 and advancing to the quarter-finals where they meet 1982 runner-up (at the time) West Germany. As they both went to penalties only for Mexico to miss 2 shots and would eventually be eliminated by German team. Meanwhile, for West Germany they advanced to the final where they defeated France in the semi-final. At the 1986 final West Germany lost to Argentina 3-2 for the 3rd time. This time making Germany as the second victim of the curse. From 1994 to 2018 Mexico were eliminated from the Round of 16 of the tournament. However any team that eliminates Mexico from the Round of 16 would be eliminated from the knockout stages.

Teams that beat Mexico were subsequently eliminated from the knockout stage as follows:

  •  Bulgaria- eliminated by Italy in the semifinals of the 1994 edition.
  •  Germany - eliminated by Croatia in the Quarterfinals of the 1998 edition.
  •  United States - eliminated by Germany in the Quarterfinals of the 2002 edition.
  •  Argentina - eliminated by Germany twice in the Quarterfinals of both the 2006 and 2010 editions.
  •  Netherlands - eliminated by Argentina in the semifinals of the 2014 edition.
  •  Brazil - eliminated by Belgium in the Quarterfinals of the 2018 edition.

In six cases, winning a group shared with Mexico ended up finishing 2nd or fourth place in a World Cup:

Dos a cero[edit]

Mexico's rivalry with the United States originates back to 1934 when the U.S. defeats Mexico 4–2 in a play-off match to secure participation in the 1934 FIFA World Cup. However, Mexico would dominate the North American region over the next five decades. It was not until the early 1990s that the United States would show signs of improvement beginning with a semi-final meet in the 1991 CONCACAF Gold Cup, where the United States slaps Mexico with a 2–0 score. Yet, much of the 1990s would still be dominated by Mexico (5W–4L–4D).

The 2000s would now see the United States frequently beat Mexico with a regular 2–0 score starting in February 2001 when the two met in a freezing cold Columbus, Ohio during a qualifying match towards the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Shockingly, the two would clash in a round of 16 match at the 2002 World Cup; In the first eight minutes, Claudio Reyna managed to run through the right-hand side before sending the ball to Josh Wolff, who then switched the ball over to Brian McBride who struck the ball into the net. Landon Donovan increased the United States' advantage midway through the second half after Eddie Lewis ran through the left-hand side before sending the ball towards Donovan who headed the ball home. An infuriated Mexico also saw captain Rafael Márquez sent off late on by referee Vítor Melo Pereira for a dangerous tackle on Cobi Jones. The United States makes World Cup history by eliminating Mexico once again with a score of 2–0 thus the taunting chant of "Dos a cero" is officially born.[119] Also in the mid-1990s, 2000s and in June 2023 the United States would obtain important victories over Mexico surpassing the 'Dos a cero' matches including a 4-0 during the 1995 U.S. Cup, 3–0 in 2000 and the recent 3–0 score at the 2023 CONCACAF Nations League Semi-finals which would now become the infamous "tres a cero".

To the Mexican people, this was seen and considered as the biggest insult not only to their sporting heritage but also to their national identity in general. Many compared the event to that of Mexico's loss of half its territory to the United States in the Mexican–American War.

The United States would continue to trample Mexico in World Cup qualifying matches whenever these took place in Columbus, Ohio with the same 2–0 score in 2005, 2009 and 2013 until Mexico ended the negative streak on November 11, 2016 (coinciding on Veterans Day and three days after the 2016 presidential election) with a 2–1 final score. Incidentally, Mexico had not picked up a win on U.S. soil since September 10, 1972 when Mexico defeated the U.S. 2–1 in Los Angeles.[120] Even prior to 2016, Mexico had blasted the United States 5–0 in the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup final which in turn ended Mexico's 10-year drought since the last time they defeated the United States on U.S. soil in the 1999 U.S. Cup and their 4–2 comeback win at the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final in which the U.S. was initially leading by 2–0. Other 2–0 U.S. victories over Mexico include; a friendly match in October 2000 in Los Angeles, a friendly match in April 2007 in Glendale, Arizona, a friendly match in April 2015 in San Antonio, Texas and a 2022 World Cup qualifier match in November 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Many in the Mexican sports press believe this to be the return of the haunting 2–0 score against Mexico.

On 24 of March 2024, the two meet at the 2024 CONCACAF Nations League final in which the United States once again pulls a 2–0 score. Both U.S. goals were scored by Tyler Adams (45th minute) and Giovanni Reyna (63rd minute). It was the second CONCACAF Nations League championship final in which Mexico finished as runner-up and in turn it was the United States’ third consecutive championship trophy win.

Mick Jagger curse[edit]

When singer Mick Jagger openly supports a team or attends a game supporting a team, the supported team has suffered losses. The curse was widely speculated and reported on during the 2010, 2014 and 2018 World Cups.[121]

Netherlands' FIFA World Cup curse[edit]

The Netherlands national football team has been a frequent participant in the FIFA World Cup, pioneered the concept of Total Football, and produced players such as Johann Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Dennis Bergkamp and Arjen Robben, but has never won the glorious trophy. The team were runners-up in 1974, 1978 and 2010. The women's team reached the final of the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2019, but also failed to win the trophy. Netherlands also reached the final of the UEFA Nations League in 2019 but lost to Portugal.[122]

Additionally, the curse also affects even Dutch football managers, not just national teams. Sarina Wiegman, one of the most successful Dutch managers, has also failed to win any FIFA Women's World Cup as coach, first with her native Netherlands in 2019 before the curse struck the same to her England in 2023.[123]

Racing Club's 7 cats curse[edit]

Raith Rovers Inverness curse[edit]

Raith Rovers did not defeat Inverness Caledonian Thistle in a Scottish league fixture between the years 2000 and 2023,[124] until the curse was finally broken on 16 September 2023 thanks to a goal from Jamie Gullan and a theatrical goalkeeping performance from Kevin Dabrowski.[125] Raith's record at the Caledonian Stadium was a particular focus of the curse. After recording a win in Inverness on 28 October 2000,[126] Raith would have to wait until 2 December 2023 until they would win in Inverness again,[127] when it was again Jamie Gullan that broke the Caledonian Stadium Curse with a stoppage-time penalty. The result was also significant in that it dealt Duncan Ferguson his first defeat as Inverness Caledonian Thistle Manager, nearly thirty years after he assauted a Raith Rovers player during his time at Rangers. During the period of the curse, the two sides played each other thirty times in the league.[128] In recent years, the final ten minutes of the fixture have become synonymous with ever-more improbable comebacks from both sides[129][130][127]

Red, white, and black play-off curse[edit]

Teams who traditionally wear red and white striped shirts and black shorts are said to be cursed in the English Football League play-offs.[131] Between the inception of the play-offs in 1987 and 2020, clubs who use those colours made 33 play-off appearances and all failed to win promotion.[132] In that time, Brentford and Sheffield United both lost in four play-off finals, and Exeter City, Sunderland, and Lincoln City lost three finals apiece.[133] One exception occurred in 1990, when Sunderland lost to Swindon Town, but they were subsequently awarded the promotion place due to financial irregularities involving Swindon.[134] The curse was beaten in 2021, when Brentford beat Swansea City to win promotion to the Premier League.[132] A day later, Lincoln City lost the League One play-off final to Blackpool. In 2022, Sunderland ended their own curse with victory in the League One play-off final. As of 2022, teams who wear red and white striped shirts have a play-off success rate of 8.8%.[133]

River Plate[edit]

Any European team that previously faced River Plate in an Intercontinental Cup or FIFA Club World Cup Final never again won the UEFA Champions League/European Cup.[135] River Plate beat Steaua București 1–0 in the 1986 Intercontinental Cup, but lost 0–1 to Juventus in the 1996 Intercontinental Cup and 0–3 to FC Barcelona in the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup Final. FC Barcelona never again played a Champions League Final, Steaua București went on to lose the 1989 Champions League Final and Juventus has gone on to lose five in a row after the 1996 Intercontinental Cup (in 1997, 1998, 2003, 2015, and 2017).

River Plate played in the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup after beating rivals Boca Juniors 5–3 on aggregate in the 2018 Copa Libertadores Finals, but lost on penalties in their semi-final against Emirati side Al-Ain, preventing River Plate from playing the 2018 Final against Real Madrid CF.

Saudi Arabia national team[edit]

The Saudi Arabia national football team is one of the most prominent names in Asia, having qualified for six FIFA World Cups and three-time champions at the AFC Asian Cup. Saudi Arabia was the second national team from Asia to win and progress from the group stage of a FIFA World Cup.[136]

Since then, Saudi Arabia has failed to live up with expectation. The Asian powerhouse last reached the final of an Asian Cup in 2000, but was denied of the silverware by Japan.[137] They have been eliminated at the group stage in every World Cup they participated in since 1994 (1998, 2002, 2006, 2018, and recently 2022); particularly the latter is the most painful for them as the Asian powerhouse inflicted one of the greatest wins in World Cup history, a 2–1 shock win over eventual champions Argentina in the opener, only to still finish bottom in the end with subsequent defeats to Poland and Mexico.[138][139][140]

There have been several explanations to explain for Saudi Arabia's football curse since the 21st century, however, it is widely believed that Saudi Arabia's rudeness and its disrespect for other national teams and other countries are thought to be the reasons for the repeated failures of Saudi team.[141][142][143] It's also believed that Saudi Arabia suffered from the delusion of power due to its massive oil wealth, leading to the Kingdom's refusal to allow its players to transfer abroad, which has also contributed to the Kingdom's ongoing World Cup knockout stage and Asian Cup drought.[144]

Scotland national team[edit]

The Scotland national football team has participated in eight FIFA World Cups, as well as three UEFA European Championship, but has always been eliminated from the first round regardless of any competitions they have participated. The same issue happens to the Scotland women's national football team, when it was eliminated from the group stage of UEFA Women's Euro 2017 and 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup despite having chances to progress.[145]

South Korea national team (fake gold medal curse)[edit]

The South Korea national football team won the first two editions of the AFC Asian Cup title, in 1956 and 1960. On the latter occasion they were also the host nation. After winning in 1960, the entire team went to receive their gold medals, only to find the medals were fake, as the money for real gold was stolen by a corrupt official. The players then demanded that the Korea Football Association acquire real gold medals, but no one took responsibility for the issue for 50 years. Some Korean fans believed the national team was cursed by this action of the KFA – the national team has not won an Asian Cup title since. In that time South Korea lost four finals, against Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Australia. The KFA tried to undo the curse by giving medals to the surviving players of 1960 and their relatives (still not completed), but as of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, they have yet to win it again.[146][147]

Syria national team[edit]

Syria national football team had a distressing reputation in their competitive history, having failed to advance past the group stages of any competitive tournament since they debuted at the 1980 AFC Asian Cup and the 1980 Summer Olympics, where the team always managed to drop points; during that span, Syria produced many disappointing performance when they had the opportunities, which cost their qualification; further accusations of corruption in the confederation have also plagued Syria's effort to produce good performance, thus extending their miseries.[148][149]

Syria's cursed reputation as a team that couldn't advance past the group stages was finally ended at the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, when Syria's 1–0 win over India meant that Syria managed to advance past the group stages for the first time.[150]

Tunisia's FIFA World Cup curse[edit]

Tunisia national football team qualified for the first World Cup in 1978, where they put up their best performance with a win over Mexico and a draw with West Germany, which was attributed to the increasing number of African slots in the FIFA World Cup.[151] Since then, however, Tunisia has been unable to live up with expectation, as their subsequent participation in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2018 and 2022 all ended in failure, having failed to advance past the group stage.[152][153] Most notably, in 2022, when Tunisia suffered a shock 1–0 loss to the supposedly weakest team in their group, Australia, even conceded a goal from Mitchell Duke, who was playing in J2 League which was the key reason for Tunisia's eventual group stage exit despite heroic win over France in the last match.[154]

UEFA Champions League's curse[edit]

Since rebranding in 1992, no teams in the UEFA Champions League, except for Real Madrid, have managed to defend the trophy they won in the previous season.[155][156][157][158]

UEFA Cup Winners' Cup holders' curse[edit]

In the 39-year history of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, no team won successive titles. Eight teams reached the following final as winners of the previous edition, including the first two defending title holders, but none successfully retained the trophy.[159]

United States' Mexican soil curse[edit]

Since the two CONCACAF rivals United States and Mexico faced each other for the first time in 1934, the United States have never been able to beat Mexico in Mexican soil in any competitive fixture, with the only win dated back in a friendly in 2012.[160] Even when the United States have rapidly emerged as a formidable soccer country since the late 1980s, and currently even held an undefeated streak against Mexico since 2020, the U.S. have remained unable to defeat Mexico competitively in Mexican territory, as all five American wins since 2020 happened entirely in the U.S.

Various attempts have been tried to undo the Mexican soil curse, from playing in familiar ground to even arriving early to familiarise, but with little success; it's believed that high altitude, combined with massive breathing difficulty and raucous, hostile crowd, greatly affected the United States players when they line up against Mexico.[161]

Vietnam's AFC Asian Cup group stage curse[edit]

Since the transforming of the AFC Asian Cup from a single round-robin format to a group phase + knockout stage format in 1972, Vietnam national football team only debuted in this new format in 2007, when the country co-hosted it, before qualifying for two other editions in 2019 and 2023.[162] However, since then, Vietnam's group stage's appearances were believed to have brought curses on many national teams facing Vietnam at the group phase, in which any team that got drawn into Vietnam's group would be doomed from winning the prestigious Asian trophy. At the 2007 edition, Vietnam's group B opponents Japan, the then title holder, were eliminated at the semi-finals after losing to Saudi Arabia, while Qatar and the United Arab Emirates suffered shock group stage exits after being unable to win against Vietnam themselves.[163][164] At the 2019 edition, Vietnam were drawn into group D with Iran and Iraq; ultimately, Iran failed to advance to the final after losing to Japan 3–0 in the same semi-finals, whereas Iraq didn't even advance past the round of 16.[165][166] The 2023 edition, the worst in Vietnam's modern football history, saw the side finished bottom after losing to Japan, Iraq and Indonesia, only for Iraq and Indonesia to suffer exits at the round of 16 while Japan crashed out with a loss to Iran in the quarter-finals in what would be Japan's worst performance in their AFC Asian Cup history since 1988.[167][168][169]

Australian rules football[edit]

Cheltenham cemetery curse[edit]

For a long time, the SANFL club the Port Adelaide Magpies had a period of prolonged dominance at Alberton Oval. It was widely commented that opposition teams became cursed as they passed by Cheltenham cemetery on the way to the ground.[170] Malcolm Blight, as coach for Woodville, played up the curse for his players in the lead up to a match, parking the bus in front of the cemetery, and making his players walk past it. Woodville lost the ensuing match, but Blight maintained that the team would have lost by more if he had not forced the team to walk past the cemetery.[171]


The Colliwobbles refers to the failure of the Collingwood Football Club to win a single premiership from the years 1958 to 1990, despite appearing in nine Grand Finals during that time. Following their famous upset victory against Melbourne in 1958, Collingwood went on to lose the next 8 grand finals, including a hat trick of losses in 1979, 1980 and 1981. Two particular examples of the supposed curse include 1970, where Collingwood were leading arch-rivals Carlton by 44 points at half time, but went on to lose the match by 10 points (the largest half-time turnaround in Grand Final history), and in 1977, wherein Collingwood drew with North Melbourne in the Grand Final, before losing the replay the next week by a hefty margin,[172] The term Collywobbles was first coined by Lou Richards.[173] The curse was ended in 1990 after Collingwood ended their 32 year long drought by defeating Essendon. However Collingwood has continued to be cursed when playing grand finals in September having lost 4 grand finals since 1990 such as 2002, 2003, 2011 and most notably 2018 where after kicking the first 5 goals of the match they lost by 5 points thanks to a kick from Dom Sheed in the dying minutes of the game to seal a famous victory. Collingwood's only other premiership came in 2010 following a draw the week before. Collingwood only two premierships from 1958 to 2023 have both occurred in October, and both premierships occurring after drawn finals which required replays (1990 Qualifying Final vs West Coast & 2010 Grand Final vs St. Kilda).[174][175]

Curse of Norm Smith[edit]

The Curse of Norm Smith is the name given to the curse that was supposedly behind the Melbourne Football Club's premiership drought from 1964 until 2021. Partway through the 1965 VFL season, the Melbourne Football Club sacked coach Norm Smith.[176] The sacking came as a massive surprise, as Smith was and still is considered one of the greatest coaches in VFL/AFL history,[177] and under his tenure Melbourne were the most dominant club in the competition, participating in 8 Grand Finals, including a record seven consecutive grand finals from 1954 to 1960, for six premierships.[178] The reasons for the sacking were vague, but mostly centered around concerns that his personality was becoming bigger than the club itself, as well as an incident in 1963 where he was sued by umpire Don Blew for defamation.[177][176] Smith was soon reinstated after fan backlash and a collapse in the team's performance, however the damage was done and his relationship with the Melbourne board was ruined, he left for good in 1967.[179] The ignominious way in which the sacking was performed has become fodder for a "curse" within club folklore as the reason behind the club's inability to win another premiership for 57 years.[180] Melbourne would fail to make the finals for the next twenty-two seasons (1965 to 1986). They also won seven wooden spoons and only appeared in two grand finals (1988 & 2000, in both instances being beaten by large margins) from 1965 to 2020.[179]

Numerous other unfortunate events in the history of the Melbourne Football Club have also been attributed to the curse, such as Jim Stynes' after the siren free kick giveaway in Melbourne's 1987 Preliminary Final match against the Hawthorn Hawks, which allowed Hawthorn player Gary Buckenara to kick the winning goal,[179] as well as serious knee injuries to players including David Schwarz and Christian Petracca.[179] In 2021, after 57 years (ironically the same age of Smith when he died in 1973), the curse was broken when Melbourne won the 2021 AFL Grand Final over the Western Bulldogs by the biggest margin in the club's history, in a game played in Perth.[181]

Kennett curse[edit]

This is the name given to AFL club Hawthorn's 11 match losing streak against rivals Geelong, from the 2008 AFL Grand Final to the 2013 preliminary final. After the Hawks won the 2008 premiership, then-Hawthorn President Jeff Kennett proclaimed that Geelong "lacked the mentality to defeat Hawthorn in big games". From that time, however, Geelong defeated Hawthorn eleven times in a row, most games being decided by 10 points or less.[182][183] The winning streak was also attributed to comments made by Paul Chapman that the Cats will "never lose to them again" following the 2008 Grand Final.[184] Chapman missed Hawthorn's curse-breaking win in 2013 due to suspension.


Boston Red Sox[edit]

Some allege that there was a curse placed on the Boston Red Sox, who failed to win a World Series after 1918, apparently due to the selling of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Before the sale, the Red Sox had won four titles in seven years (1912–1918). After the sale, the Yankees went on to win 26 World Series Championships, before the Red Sox would win again. The "curse" was broken when, after 86 seasons, the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to 0 in the 2004 World Series (before the Series, the Red Sox had come back from a 3-games-to-0 deficit, a first in Major League postseason history, to defeat the Yankees at the original Yankee Stadium for the American League pennant).

Chicago Cubs and White Sox[edit]

Both of Chicago's baseball teams were involved in supposed curses. The Chicago Cubs, after benefiting from a baserunning error by New York Giants' Fred Merkle during the last couple of weeks in the season, won the 1908 World Series. From 1909 to 2015, the Cubs did not win a World Series, despite participating as the National League (NL) champion seven times between 1910 and 1945. The 1945 World Series appearance was most notable because it marked the start of the Curse of the Billy Goat. That incident involved Billy Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, who was asked to leave a World Series game vs. the Detroit Tigers because his pet goat's odor bothered other fans. From 1946 to 2015, the closest the Cubs had advanced to the World Series was five outs away in game 6 of the 2003 NLCS vs. the Florida Marlins, when Steve Bartman, a Cubs fan, attempted to catch a foul ball. The Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2016 National League Championship Series (NLCS), winning the organization's first National League (NL) pennant since 1945. The Cubs finally won the 2016 World Series against the Cleveland Indians, their first championship in 108 years. The Chicago White Sox were said to have been cursed because of their role in fixing the 1919 World Series. As a result, the Cincinnati Reds won that series in eight games, and eight White Sox players were banned by baseball for their actions in throwing the series. The White Sox wouldn't win another World Series until 2005, when they swept the Houston Astros in four games.

Cleveland Guardians[edit]

This curse supposedly prevents the Cleveland Guardians (formerly Indians) from competing in a pennant race, reaching postseason play, or winning the American League (AL) pennant and/or World Series. The origin of this curse dates back to 1960, when the then-Cleveland Indians traded outfielder Rocky Colavito to the Detroit Tigers for outfielder Harvey Kuenn. Cleveland played in and lost the World Series in 1995, 1997, and 2016, blowing a 3–1 series lead in the latter. The last time they emerged victorious in the World Series was in 1948.

Hanshin Tigers[edit]

This curse was supposedly cast on the Hanshin Tigers by Colonel Harland Sanders (the founder and mascot of Kentucky Fried Chicken) after fans of the team threw his statue into the Dōtonbori Canal while celebrating the Tigers' 1985 Japan Championship Series, not to be recovered until 2009.

The curse was broken in 2023 when the Tigers won Game 7 of the 2023 Japan Series for their first NPB championship since 1985.

San Francisco Giants[edit]

This curse is an alleged hex placed on the San Francisco Giants following their move from New York City and refers to Coogan's Bluff which is a cliff that overlooked the former site of the Polo Grounds, which was the Giants' home in New York.[185] In 1921, the Giants honored Eddie Grant, the first Major League Baseball player killed in World War I, with a plaque in centerfield,[186] but the plaque was lost during the field invasion by fans that followed the Giants' final game at Polo Grounds at the end of the 1957 season.[187]

Since then, the Giants, who had won five World Series titles, all but the first with the Eddie Grant plaque in centerfield, lost in their next three World Series appearances, including the '89 Series that was delayed because of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Two of those series losses were in the seventh game.[185]

The Giants were approached on multiple occasions with offers to replace the plaque, but the management refused, citing a preference to keep the team's New York history separate. But the team eventually relented, installing a replica of the original plaque in AT&T Park on Memorial Day, 2006. A club official at the time said, "Baseball fans are so superstitious, and players are too, so you have to take this stuff seriously. And if by putting up a plaque we can break some sort of curse, who's to say it's not the right thing to do?"[187]

The Giants' 2010s dynasty represented their first World Series championships in San Francisco.[188] It should be mentioned that all three victories (2010, 2012, 2014) were won on the road, away from San Francisco.[185]

Gaelic Games[edit]

Mayo GAA[edit]

The Curse of '51 allegedly prevents Mayo from winning the Sam Maguire Cup ever again, or at least until the death has occurred of every member of the last winning team from 1951. It remains unbroken—despite the team reaching the final on eleven[189] occasions since then, they have either completely collapsed on the day or been undone by a series of other unfortunate events.[190]

The legend tells us that while the boisterous Mayo team were passing through Foxford on the victorious journey home, the team failed to wait quietly for a funeral cortège to pass by on its way to the graveyard. The presiding priest consequently put a curse on Mayo football to never win a subsequent All-Ireland Final until all members of the 1951 team are dead.[191]

In 1989, Mayo reached their first All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final since their last victory in 1951 only to lose to Cork. In 1996, a freak point by Meath at the end of the final forced a replay, which saw Mayo concede another late score that would deny them victory. Kerry bridged an 11-year title gap against them in 1997 with a three-point win, before torturing them by eight points in 2004 and thirteen points in 2006.

Mayo returned to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final in 2012. Even with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Rome seeking divine intervention through Pope Benedict XVI the day before,[192] the "Kafkaesque black farce"[193] continued from where it had left off—with Donegal allowed bridge a 20-year gap between titles, helped in no small part by a nightmare opening quarter for Mayo as Michael Murphy—whose father is from Mayo—launched a rocket of a shot into the goal after three minutes. Then, in the eleventh minute, Colm McFadden seized the ball from the grasp of Kevin Keane and slid it into the net for a second Donegal goal. Mayo only got on the scoresheet after sixteen minutes and never led at any point during the match. They eventually lost with thirteen points to Donegal's two goals and eleven.[193][194][195]

They lost again in 2013, this time by a single point to Dublin.[189]

They qualified for the 2016 Final on 18 September 2016 where they faced Dublin the curse seemingly struck again when they scored two own goals in the opening half before drawing with Dublin in the last few minutes of the game. They faced Dublin again in a rematch on 1 October 2016 but lost by a point.

Mayo appeared again in the 2017 Final on 17 September 2017 and in the 2020 Final on 19 December 2020 where they faced Dublin in both finals. The curse continues to strike and Mayo lost both finals. In the 2021 Final Mayo lost to Tyrone, having missed a penalty and several goal chances.[196]

Following the death of Fr Peter Quinn in January 2016 and Dr. Pádraig Carney in 2019 two living members of the 1951 All Ireland winning team remained: Paddy Prendergast and Mick Loftus.[197][198] Mick Loftus was a sub but didn't play.[199] Prendergast died in September 2021, leaving Loftus as the last and only remaining of the 1951 winning team until his passing in April 2023. At the time of Prendergast's death, Mayo had reached 11 All-Ireland finals since 1951, and lost every one.[200]

Biddy Early[edit]

Biddy Early was a 19th-century healer from Feakle in County Clare. Her curse or prophecy was said variously to afflict two hurling teams which endured long droughts in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship: Clare[201][202][203] (19141995) and/or Galway[204][205][206][207] (19231980). The two counties played a famous semi-final in the 1932 Championship:[207] Clare won, but lost the final to Kilkenny.[206] After Clare's "curse" was broken in 1995, Billy Loughnane from Ennis wrote to The Irish Times, denouncing the idea of a curse as preposterous, mainly because Early died in 1872 before the GAA was even founded.[208]

Ice hockey[edit]

Chicago Blackhawks[edit]

A curse allegedly placed on the Chicago Blackhawks in 1927 by head coach Pete Muldoon when he was fired, stating that they would never again finish in first place. The "curse" was first mentioned in print in 1943 by Toronto sportswriter Jim Coleman. They would not finish in first place in their division (1928–1937) or in the single-division NHL (after 1938) until 1967, the final season of the Original Six era, despite winning the Stanley Cup three times since Muldoon supposedly "cursed" the team. However, immediately after this, Coleman admitted that he had completely fabricated the "curse" to break a writer's block.

New York Rangers[edit]

The Curse of 1940 was a mythical explanation for the failure of the NHL's New York Rangers to win the Stanley Cup since 1940. The curse supposedly began after the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1940, which was the same year the team's owners had paid off their mortgage for their home arena, Madison Square Garden, and the owners celebrated by burning the mortgage contract in the bowl of the Cup. It was broken when the Rangers defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4–3 in 1994. However, the Rangers have not won a Stanley Cup since then, with their only appearance since then was in 2014 when they lost to the Los Angeles Kings 4–1.

Presidents' Trophy Curse[edit]

Since the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks, no Presidents' Trophy winners has ever made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Moreover, no team that had won the Presidents' Trophy from 2016 to 2023 advanced past the second round until the Rangers did in 2024 after beating the Carolina Hurricanes 5–3 in game 6 to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

Most notably since then, two teams have been eliminated in the Opening Round of these playoffs by their lower seeded opponents. In 2019 Tampa Bay Lightning got swept 0–4 by the 8th seeded Columbus Blue Jackets. This was followed by the 2023 Boston Bruins blowing a 3–1 series lead to the last seeded Florida Panthers. In the latter case, the Boston Bruins set the NHL record for the most games (65) and points (135) ever won in a single season, leading the Panthers by 43 points, thus making this one of the greatest upsets in NHL Playoff History.[209][210]

Motor sports[edit]

Andretti family[edit]

Since winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1969, auto racing legend Mario Andretti was plagued with bad luck in his efforts to win the great race for a second time before his retirement in 1994. The misfortune at Indianapolis has notably extended to his sons Michael and Jeff, nephew John, as well as grandson Marco. It is also said to have affected, to an indirect extent, his twin brother Aldo, and former car owners Paul Newman and Carl Haas from Newman/Haas Racing.

Michael Andretti has won the race five times as an owner, but three times the respective driver subsequently defected to a rival team the following year.

Bike No. 1 curse[edit]

In MotoGP, every champion were granted rights to use number 1 on their bike for their title defense season.[211] However, since 1998, most of champion who defend their titles using the number are unable to defend their title in the title defending season.[212]

In 1999, Spanish rider Àlex Crivillé won the championship after Mick Doohan, who was using number 1 on his bike suffered a career ending incident during the title fight. Crivillé later failed to defend his title the next year after using the same number on his bike in 2000. The next year, the defending champion Kenny Roberts Jr. also failed to secure his title after using the same number.[212] 6 years later, defending champion Nicky Hayden, who won the championship in 2006 also failed to defend his title using the number after numerous incidents he suffered in 2007.[213][214][215] The next year Casey Stoner also suffered the same fate.[216][217] 9 years after Stoner, defending champion Jorge Lorenzo also unable to defend his title after switching his bike number from 99 to 1. The curse was finally being broken in 2023 when Francesco Bagnaia won the championship using the number 1.

Home Grand Prix curse[edit]

A number of drivers have apparently poor luck when racing in their home Grands Prix, with notable examples being Jenson Button, Mark Webber, Rubens Barrichello, Charles Leclerc and George Russell. Barrichello had qualified third or higher five times, including three pole positions during his 19 starts at the Brazilian Grand Prix, but out of these attempts, his best result was third in the 2004 running of the race, with the remainder of the attempts seeing either Barrichello dropping down the order or ending up retiring.[218] Leclerc, meanwhile, has only finished his home Grand Prix, the Monaco Grand Prix twice, with him retiring from all other starts in his home race including his entry in the FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2017,[219] and also failing to start from pole position in the 2021 running of the race. Russell has only scored points at the British Grand Prix once out of all of his visits in his home race (including the one-off 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at the same track). Leclerc broke his curse by winning the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix

No Australian has ever been recorded finishing on the podium or outright winning in their home race, in both Adelaide and Melbourne since the race was added to the Formula One calendar in 1985, with Alan Jones being the last Australian to win an home Grand Prix, in 1980. Daniel Ricciardo came in second during the 2014 running of the event, but was subsequently disqualified due to a technical infringement.[220] As of July 2023, Webber and Ricciardo joint-hold the record for the highest finishing Australians in their home, with a 4th place each in the 2012 and 2018 editions.

One-off livery curse[edit]

A number of drivers and teams had also suffered misfortunes running a one-off livery in race weekends. At the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, David Coulthard's final F1 race ended in retirement in a first lap collision when his Red Bull was sporting a Wings for Life charity livery.[221]

The Jaguar Racing team ran a special one-off livery at the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix promoting the release of Ocean's Twelve, with a $300,000 diamond mounted on each of the cars. The curse struck when driver Christian Klien crashed on the first lap resulting in the diamond lost and never recovered, while Mark Webber retired later with a gearbox failure.[221]

Mercedes ran a special retro livery to celebrate 125 years in the sport at the 2019 German Grand Prix, but the curse took hold when Lewis Hamilton broke his front wing (the resulting pit stop took more than a minute to complete), spinning and ended up in ninth place having started from pole position while Valtteri Bottas crashed out.[221]

Talladega Speedway[edit]

NASCAR racetrack Talladega Superspeedway has been said to have been cursed by a Native American shaman; other stories claim that it was built on an Indian burial ground. The curse allegedly explains the high number of unusual occurrences, untimely deaths, and spectacular accidents that have plagued the track since its opening in 1969 (part of this alleged curse has a rational underpinning; Talladega is the largest racetrack in NASCAR, allowing for much faster and more dangerous racing). During the 1970s, on the eve before a race, roughly a dozen cars were sabotaged with gas tanks being filled with sugar or sand, and tires were slashed as well. Bobby Isaac, the 1970 Cup champion, parked his car mid race despite nothing being wrong with the car. When asked why, Isaac claimed a voice from above ordered him to park the car.

Other sports[edit]

Canadian curling[edit]

In the 1972 Air Canada Silver Broom curling tournament, Robert LaBonte, the skip of the American team, accidentally kicked the stone belonging to the Canadian team at the end of the match. This put the match into an extra end, and Canada won one more point to win the championship. Canada did not win another World Championship until 1980, and this was said that LaBonte put a "curse" on Canada.

The BasedGod's Curse[edit]

In May 2011, Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant tweeted an insult directed at cult rapper Lil B, a.k.a. "The BasedGod," in which Durant expressed incredulity at the idea that Lil B had become "relevant". In response, Lil B tweeted out the BasedGod's Curse, claiming that Durant would never win the NBA championship. The two men have exchanged further insults and basketball-related challenges on Twitter. In June 2012, Lil B claimed on Twitter that he had lifted the curse; however, in February 2014, during the NBA All-Star Game in which Durant was playing, Lil B resumed insulting Durant on Twitter, implying that the curse had returned. Lil B later released a diss song directed at Durant entitled "F KD".[222] in 2016, the Thunder blew a 3–1 lead in the Western Conference Finals to the Golden State Warriors. In the offseason, he left for the Warriors. On 4 July 2016, following that announcement, Lil B rescinded the curse again.[223] In the 2017 NBA Finals, the Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games to win the NBA championship, giving Durant his first ever title.

St George Illawarra Dragons[edit]

In the National Rugby League (NRL), the Canberra curse referred to the St. George Illawarra Dragons' constant inability to defeat the Canberra Raiders at their home ground, or anywhere else, between 2000 and 2014. The Raiders enjoyed an unusual dominance of the Dragons, winning matches between the pair on a regular basis regardless of which team enjoyed favouritism or home ground advantage.[224] This curse came to an end in Round 23, 2014, with the Dragons winning 34–16; it was their first win over the Raiders in Canberra since 2000, overall since 2007, but just their second since 2001.[225][226]

Masters Tournament[edit]

The Masters Tournament held annually at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia begins with an informal par-3 competition. No winner of this has ever gone on to win the main tournament the same year.[227] Eleven golfers have won both the contest and the Masters, with two of them winning the Masters later in the career after winning the contest. Raymond Floyd came the closest to winning both in 1990, but he lost in a sudden-death playoff.

World Snooker Championship[edit]

In snooker, the "Crucible Curse" refers to the fact that no first-time winner of the World Snooker Championship has successfully defended his title since the event was first held at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in 1977. Of the 19 first-time champions in this era, only two have even made the final the following year, and seven were eliminated in their first match. The "curse" can even be seen in the pre-Crucible era—the three first-time champions between the start of the championship's "modern era" in 1969 and its move to the Crucible all lost in their respective semifinal matches the next year. All three players went on to win a championship at the Crucible, and all failed to retain their title after their first victory at that venue.

Curse of the rainbow jersey[edit]

In cycle racing, the "curse of the rainbow jersey" is a popular term referring to the phenomenon where cyclists who have become World Champion (who wear the rainbow jersey during their reign as world champion) often suffer from bad luck the next year.

The van Gerwen curse[edit]

In 2020 and 2021, a phenomenon known as the "van Gerwen curse" was discussed in darts. In PDC Major events, anyone who knocked out top player Michael van Gerwen would subsequently lose in the next round. Players who fell to the curse in this way included Simon Whitlock (three times), Dave Chisnall, Jonny Clayton, Ian White and Glen Durrant. The curse was finally broken by Clayton, who beat van Gerwen in the 2021 Masters and went on to win the tournament.[228]

Multiple sports[edit]

40-year Olympic curse[edit]

In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, discussions were being held regarding the fate of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. In March 2020, Japan's finance minister called the event the "cursed Olympics", noting the cancellation of the 1940 Summer Olympics due to World War II and the 66-country boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics.[229] The 2020 Olympics were delayed to 2021, with the possibility of cancellation if that deadline could not be met.[230][231] The Olympics went on in 2021 as planned, one year late.

Kenny Albert–Chicago curse[edit]

Sportscaster Kenny Albert is known to some Chicago sports fans as "The Kiss of Death" to their teams.[232] Many games involving the Bears and Blackhawks with Albert announcing have ended in losses for both teams. Examples include Game 7 of the 2014 Western Conference Final between the Blackhawks and Kings, and many Chicago Bears' games with Albert announcing since 2004.

Atlanta, Georgia[edit]

Prior to the 2021 World Series, Atlanta, Georgia had won only one "Big Four" league professional sports championship; the 1995 World Series.

The National Football League (NFL)'s Atlanta Falcons won their first division championship in 1980 and were favored against the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional playoff game. Despite trailing 24–10 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Cowboys rallied to out-score the Falcons 20–3 in the quarter to defeat the Falcons 30–27. In 1998, the Falcons advanced to play in the club's first-ever Super Bowl game after upsetting the heavily favored Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game 30–27; however, the Falcons lost to John Elway (in his final game) and the Denver Broncos 34–19 in Super Bowl XXXIII. In 2010 and 2012 the Falcons held the number 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, but were upset by the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, respectively. The latter occurred in the NFC Championship Game, where the Falcons held a 17–0 lead. In Super Bowl LI, the Falcons' second-ever Super Bowl appearance, Atlanta jumped out to a 28–3 lead over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. However, the Falcons suffered by far the greatest collapse in Super Bowl history (25 points; the previous record was 10) and lost to the Patriots 34–28 in the first Super Bowl game to ever be decided in an overtime period. In the 2020 season the Falcons blew back to back 15+ point leads as well as scoring an accidental touchdown with a minute left on the clock that gave Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions an opportunity to drive the field and score a go-back-ahead touchdown.

Consistently fielding one of the best teams in Major League Baseball, the Atlanta Braves won 14 straight division titles from 1991 to 2005 but won the World Series only once (1995). In the 1996 World Series, the Braves seemed poised to win their second straight championship after jumping out to a 2–0 series lead going home. However, the Braves lost four straight games to the New York Yankees, including a Game 4 in which they held a 6–0 lead. In 1999, the Braves were swept in four games by the New York Yankees. Notable examples of the Atlanta sports curse as it pertains to the Braves include Lonnie Smith, Ed Sprague, Charlie Leibrandt (in back-to-back World Series), Jim Leyritz, Eric Gregg's wide strike zone, Brooks Conrad's errors, blowing an 8 1/2 game Wild Card lead in September 2011, the 2012 National League Wild Card Game, the 2019 National League Division Series, and blowing a 3–1 series lead in the 2020 NLCS.

The National Basketball Association (NBA)'s Atlanta Hawks have not played in an NBA Finals since the club's move from St. Louis, Missouri in 1968. Their first appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals was against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015, in which they were swept four games to zero despite being a 60-win team and the 1-seed in the conference. The Hawks returned to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021, only to have their star player, Trae Young, injured in the Eastern Conference Finals, which they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Atlanta has lost two National Hockey League (NHL) franchises to Canadian cities: the Atlanta Flames (who moved to Calgary in 1980) and the Atlanta Thrashers (who moved to Winnipeg in 2011). In both cases, the Atlanta team failed to so much as win a playoff round (the Thrashers never won a playoff game).

The 2017 Georgia Bulldogs college football team blew a 13-point lead at halftime in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship to Alabama and lost in overtime, 26–23, despite Alabama benching their starting quarterback, Jalen Hurts, at halftime in favor of Tua Tagovailoa. Later that year, in the 2018 SEC Championship Game, Georgia once again blew a 14-point lead to Alabama in the same venue as their National Championship loss and once again also losing to the backup quarterback (this time Hurts, who replaced an injured Tagovailoa).[233]

Atlanta's Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) team, the Atlanta Dream, have reached the WNBA Finals on three occasions (2010, 2011, and 2013) but were swept three games to zero each time.

Off the field, the curse has found its way towards athletes as well. Eugene Robinson, who played for the Falcons during the 1998 season, was arrested for soliciting a prostitute the night before Super Bowl XXXIII. Michael Vick's arrest for involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring came while he was still with the Falcons. Thabo Sefolosha, the Hawks' star defender in 2015, was arrested in New York City weeks before the beginning of the NBA playoffs and suffered a fractured tibia while being detained. In April 2021, the Braves were stripped of the 2021 MLB All-Star Game due to a recently passed bill in Georgia that resulted in alleged voter suppression.[234][235]

However, the Major League Soccer (MLS)'s Atlanta United FC won the MLS Cup in just their second season, in 2018. Though the MLS is not considered to be one of the "Big Four" major sports leagues in North America, some[who?] believe the curse was broken with this victory.[236][237][238]

In 2021, the Atlanta Braves, despite numerous injuries, inconsistent first-half performances, Marcell Ozuna's off-the-field incident, and having the worst record of any 2021 playoff team, won the 2021 World Series.[239][240] In January 2022, the Georgia Bulldogs finally ended their 41-year title drought.[241]

Cleveland, Ohio[edit]

Prior to 2016, Cleveland was particularly known for not winning a championship in any major sport since 1964, as well as repeatedly losing playoff games in heartbreaking fashion. Although the Cleveland Browns won the 1964 NFL Championship Game, the match occurred two seasons prior to the first Super Bowl and six before the AFL–NFL merger. More than fifty years after winning their last league title, the Browns remain one of only four teams yet to play in the NFL title game during the modern era. More recently, the Cleveland Indians lost the 1995, 1997, and 2016 World Series, and the Cleveland Cavaliers were swept in both the 2007 and 2018 NBA Finals. In 2004, ranked Cleveland "the most tortured sports city in America". In 2012, Cleveland Scene dubbed the city's sports struggles "The Curse of Chief Wahoo", a reference to continued use of the controversial logo.[242][243] (Chief Wahoo was eventually retired in 2018, with the Indians renaming themselves the Cleveland Guardians in 2022.)

The Cleveland curse was "broken" when the Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, thereby ending Cleveland's 52-year championship drought.[244][245]

Drake curse[edit]

The Drake curse is a sports curse attributed to rapper Drake. Endorsement from Drake, including wearing a team's or player's jersey, publicly declaring support for a team or attending a game has resulted in a loss or negative outcome for players and teams. Teams and athletes supposedly affected by the curse include Alabama football, Conor McGregor, the Toronto Raptors, Kentucky basketball, Juventus FC, the Canada men's national soccer team, Serena Williams and Anthony Joshua. In 2019, after the Toronto Raptors defeated the Philadelphia 76ers with a buzzer-beater from Kawhi Leonard, it was revealed Drake was wearing 76ers shorts in order to use the curse to his advantage.

The Drake curse was briefly lifted on June 13, 2019, when the Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in game six of the 2019 NBA Finals to win the series 4-2 and claim their first NBA championship and the country's first championship since the 1993 World Series when the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in the 4–2 series.

The Dallas Cowboys became the latest team to suffer the Drake Curse as of 2024 when they lost to Green Bay Packers in the 2023–24 NFL playoffs, however, the curse was considered to have been lifted after being broken over the course of 2023 and 2024 when the Kansas City Chiefs won the AFC championship against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship and the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII after he bet on the Chiefs to win both games and again a year later when the Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII.[246][247][248][249]The Dallas Cowboys became the latest team to fall victim to the Drake Curse as of 2024, following their loss to the Green Bay Packers in the 2023–24 NFL playoffs. However, the curse was widely considered to have been lifted during 2023 and 2024. This shift was attributed to the Kansas City Chiefs' successes, where they won the AFC Championship against the Cincinnati Bengals and later triumphed over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII, following bets placed by Drake in favor of the Chiefs. The trend continued when the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII, further indicating the curse's end.[250][251][252][253]


Marketing experts have highlighted the "curse of Gillette", given the mishaps that happen to sports stars which are associated with the brand, most notably Tiger Woods, Thierry Henry and David Beckham.[254][255] One notable exception to the curse is the New England Patriots, who have played at Gillette Stadium since 2002[256] and have won six Super Bowls in that time frame.

Gold Coast, Queensland[edit]

The Gold Coast is notorious for having teams perform poorly in the major Australian sports leagues and either fold, rebrand or relocate shortly after. Most of the city's sports teams have never reached the Grand Final of any major sports league in Australia, let alone win a premiership/championship. The Gold Coast is often referred to as "the graveyard" due to the number of professional sports teams that have folded in the city.[257][258][259] The teams will often fall into trouble over poor on field performances, financial problems, ownership issues and/or under performing shortly after signing a marquee player. One of the city's two current professional teams fell dangerously close to suffering the same fate in 2015 as Australian media outlets reported they were trying desperately to avoid the curse.[260]

Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Minnesota[edit]

Since the Minnesota Twins won the 1991 World Series, the four main sports teams based in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area (Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Wild, Minnesota Twins, and formerly the Minnesota North Stars) have been unable to win or appear in a championship, whether it's a Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, NBA Finals, or World Series.[261][262]

The Minnesota Vikings have appeared in four Super Bowls but have yet to win any. They also played in six NFC Championship games since 1976, the year they lost Super Bowl XI to the Oakland Raiders and the last time they made the Super Bowl. However, they have been unable to win any. The closest the Vikings came to winning the NFC Championship game since that span is the 1998 NFC Championship game and 2009 NFC Championship game. In 2003, the Vikings missed the playoffs despite having a 6–0 with Nate Poole catching a game-winning touchdown pass from quarterback Josh McCown to miss the playoffs.[263] In 2016, the Vikings had a 5–0 start but were eliminated from the playoffs following a 38–25 loss to the Green Bay Packers.[264] In 2017, the Vikings advanced to the NFC Championship following a game-winning play from wide receiver Stefon Diggs, but were blown out 38–7 by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Since the Minnesota Timberwolves was established in 1989, they have yet to play in any NBA Finals or win it, with the closest being the 2003–04 season, making it the only season in which the Timberwolves won a playoff series. Following that season, they would fail to make the playoffs until the 2017–18 season.[265] They would make the playoffs again during the 2021–22 season, but would lose in six games to the Memphis Grizzlies, including a blown 26-point lead in game 3 and a 10-point lead in game 6.[266][267]

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania[edit]

The "Curse of Billy Penn"[268] was cited as a reason for Philadelphia sports teams' failure to win championships since the Philadelphia 76ers swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1983 NBA Finals. Some fans believe that the city's breaking of a gentlemen's agreement in 1987, that no building in Philadelphia be built higher than the statue of William Penn on the top of the spire of City Hall, put a curse on the city.

When the final beam in the construction of the Comcast Center, was raised on 18 June 2007, iron workers of Local Union 401 attached a small figurine of William Penn to the beam in an attempt to break the curse. The following year, the Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series. Ten years later, when the even taller Comcast Technology Center was topped out, the iron workers on that skyscraper did the same thing and the Philadelphia Eagles would go on to win Super Bowl LII.

The city's sports teams have also lost in championship finals in years of presidential inaugurations, beginning with the 76ers' loss in the 1977 NBA Finals and includes the Phillies' loss in the 2009 World Series.[269] During that span, each of the four city's teams have lost championships during such years twice.[269]

Sports Illustrated cover[edit]

Players who appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated magazine have tended to coincidentally suffer setbacks, injuries and even deaths, or lose important games, shortly after appearing on the cover.


The state of Tennessee has had three professional sports teams since 2001 - the Memphis Grizzlies, Nashville Predators, and Tennessee Titans. None of them have won a professional sports championship and all have a history of failure in big moments.

The Titans have been to only one Super Bowl since moving to Tennessee in 1997. In their lone Super Bowl appearance, the Titans were one yard away from tying the game but wide receiver Kevin Dyson was tackled one yard short of the endzone on the final play. Since then, the Titans have only appeared in two conference championship games (2002 and 2019), losing both in routs. In addition, every time they've been their conference's number-one seed for the playoffs (2000, 2008, and 2021), the Titans have lost their first playoff game.

The Predators, who played their first season in 1998, have consistently made the playoffs (15 times since 2004) but have only appeared in one Conference Final and Stanley Cup Finals (both in 2017). They lost the Stanley Cup Finals in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins mainly due to the Predators' inability to play effectively on the road in that series. The team is also frequently eliminated from the playoffs at home, including in 2017. They are also 0–5 in the playoff series against the San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes who both also have a history of failing in the postseason.

The Grizzlies, after moving from Vancouver in 2001, have never won a conference finals game, only appearing in that series once (in 2013) and had to wait 21 years to win their first division title.

The Tennessee Volunteers football team was virtually irrelevant from 2008 to 2021[270] on a national level since firing former head coach Phillip Fulmer. In 2016, after starting 5-0 for the first time since their last national championship season, the Vols had a chance to play in the Sugar Bowl if they won their final regular season game, but instead lost that game to Vanderbilt. In 2022, after starting 8-0 and being ranked #1 in the College Football Playoff standings, the Volunteers lost in blow out losses to Georgia and South Carolina, ultimately ending any chance they had of making the 4-team playoff. In addition, their Heisman candidate quarterback Hendon Hooker tore his ACL in the loss to South Carolina.


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