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Magalí Martínez knew something was wrong: seemingly invincible star Lionel Messi was brawling on the football pitch. To her, it seemed like he was afflicted with a supernatural curse that has roots in different cultures throughout history, the “evil eye.”
So Martínez, a self-proclaimed witch and part-time babysitter, got to work. She focused intensely on Messi, started repeating a prayer and poured some oil into a bowl of water. If the oil remained dispersed, it was safe. If it accumulated in the middle, it was cursed.
“It came together like a magnet,” she said. “I knew I couldn’t cure him alone.”
She took to Twitter and called out to her fellow witches across Argentina. “Evil eye healing sisters, Messi is very affected,” she said. “I need your help.”
A thousand people shared her tweet, many saying they too were witches and would work to protect Argentina’s golden boy.
Argentina have not lost since.
Accountants set their odds, players placed their bets and pundits made their picks for Sunday’s World Cup final between Argentina and France, but their analysis of the game – focused only on the 22 players in the field – might not be considered. a joker: the Argentine army of witches.

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Photo credit: Anita Pouchard Serra/The New York Times
In recent weeks, hundreds, if not thousands, of Argentine women who call themselves “brujas,” or witches, have taken up arms – in the form of prayers, altars, candles, amulets and burning sage – to protect their country’s beloved football team in their quest to secure a Developing Nations Cup title and their first in 36 years.
“We see ourselves as agents who, out of love, can care, protect and sow happiness,” said Rocío Cabral Menna, 27, a witch and high school teacher in Messi’s hometown of Rosario, who is burning a leaf laurel inscribed with her predicted score at a ceremony before each game. Players compete on the pitch, she said, and at home, “the witches take care of them.”
The trend ignited after Argentina’s shocking loss to Saudi Arabia in the opening game, forcing the Argentines to look for a way to help the team the nation of 47 million has been battling. placed his hopes.
After this game, several witches created a WhatsApp group to explain to other witches how to help the national team. They called it the Argentine Association of Witches, or La Brujineta, a play on “bruja” and “La Scaloneta”, Argentina’s nickname for its national team.
“I thought there would be 10 people at most,” said the group’s founder, Antonella Spadafora, 23, a witch who runs a convenience store in a town in northwestern Argentina. Within days, more than 300 people had joined the group. Last week there were so many requests that they opened a Twitter account. He gained 25,000 subscribers in seven days.
“We were tired of being hidden witches,” said Andrea Maciel, 28, a witch and graphic designer in Buenos Aires who helps run the group.
The witches said their main goal was to use rituals to absorb negative energy from Argentine players and exchange it with good energy. This, however, leaves them exhausted.
“Headache, dizziness, vomiting, muscle aches,” Spadafora said. “We absorb all the bad vibes,” she added. “It drains you a lot, because they’re very public figures who have so much negative energy from other people.”
So, to spread the burden, party leaders now divide witches into groups before each match, each focusing on protecting a certain player.

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Photo credit: Anita Pouchard Serra/The New York Times
While many witches have said they work to take care of Messi and his teammates, others try to cast spells on opposing players, especially goalkeepers. A ritual involves freezing a piece of paper with a player’s name on it, saying a curse, and then burning the frozen paper just before the game.
But the Brujineta group have warned that trying to curse France could backfire, not least because of the team’s star striker Kylian Mbappé.
“We do not recommend freezing France, because their players are protected by dark entities and the energy can bounce!!” the group announced on Twitter on Wednesday. “We saw very dark things in the France team and in particular in Mbappé. Please share!!!”
The World Cup-centric witches represent a wide variety of occult disciplines, more New Age than ancient and indigenous. Practices include black magic, white magic, Wicca, Reiki, Tarot, astrology, and healers of the evil eye and other ailments.
Some women said they were born with special abilities, while others said they developed their skills through study. Several said they began practicing witchcraft as part of a growing feminist movement in Argentina that began in 2018 with the fight for legal abortion.
“I think we all have magic inside,” Cabral Menna said.

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Photo credit: Anita Pouchard Serra/The New York Times
But the witches are far from the only Argentines trying to help their team in the supernatural realm. On match days, many more Argentines practice some sort of cabal, or superstition designed to avoid bringing bad luck to their team. Cábalas often involve people following the exact same routine if the team wins, including where they watch the game, with whom, in what clothes, at what volume, and on what channel.
The practice is so common that millions of Argentines probably practice some kind of kabbalah, a word derived from kabbalah, a Jewish mystical tradition. The cabalas were particularly pronounced this year after Argentina lost in their opening match.
Adrián Coria, Messi’s childhood coach at Rosario and later in the national team, said he watched the first defeat with his family in his living room. Then his wife and daughter sent him to a little cabin in the garden for the second game. “Alone,” he said. He has since watched the rest of the World Cup there.
Cabral Menna, the Witch of Rosario, said she and her mother watched Argentina’s first victory in her mother’s room. “It’s the only part of the house without air conditioning,” she says. “It’s very hot. But we won’t move.”
And Sergio Duri, owner of a restaurant in Rosario with Messi’s signature on the wall, said he now watches games in his kitchen with a dachshund, Omar, while his wife watches them in their bedroom with the another dachshund, Dulce. “If this comes out, everyone will know that we’re all completely nuts,” he said. “But these are cabals, you know?”
Players also practice cábalas. Alejandro Gómez, Leandro Paredes and Rodrigo de Paul, three midfielders, made a habit of strolling around the pitch an hour before kick-off chewing sweets, a tradition they started last year when Argentina won the Copa América, South America’s premier soccer tournament.

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Photo credit: Anita Pouchard Serra/The New York Times
So now the question for witches is: what will happen on Sunday?
“We don’t want to give information as if we have the absolute last word,” Spadafora said. “But obviously we started to work, and obviously we checked with most of the means at our disposal – esoteric means, for example, pendulums, tarot, all the methods of divination – and that indicates that Argentina go win.”
Azucena Agüero Blanch, a 72-year-old professional fortune teller once consulted by former president Carlos Menem, also explained that she was working with magic stones to secure a victory for Argentina. “A lot of people who are pushing for Argentina to win asked me to work on that,” she told an Argentinian newspaper.
On Friday night, Martínez was in her candlelit home in Buenos Aires wearing a robe covered in tigers and lighting candles at an altar that included Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu god; and a photo of Diego Maradona, the late Argentinian soccer star who looks like a god to many in that country.
Martínez said she has a series of methods to protect the national team, including a practice that involves swinging a pendulum, or a wooden cylinder on a string, over a player’s shirt number, then to burn cotton sprinkled with a tincture of mistletoe. She said she follows the news for updates on player ailments and then uses the pendulum to help alleviate them. “The pendulum is the most powerful tool I have,” she explained.
She said she also had psychic moments during games. During Argentina’s game against Australia on December 3, she said she had a vision of Argentina striker Julián Álvarez celebrating a goal.
At 5:13 p.m., she tweeted, “Julian Álvarez, I want your goal (candle eye candle eye candle).”
Four minutes later, Álvarez scored.



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