For many athletes and fans, superstition and sports go hand in hand. Sometimes specific sports or teams share superstitions, and other times individual fans and athletes have their own beliefs.
Some superstitions start out simple enough: a fan wears the same unwashed jersey at every game he attends after the first game he went to resulted in a win for his favorite team, or maybe a hockey player decides that a specific warm-up ritual will increase his luck and performs it before every game.
But some superstitions go from innocent to bizarre very quickly.
Soccer players and fans are not exempt from these crazy superstitions.
The following superstitions may not be as unusual as, say, eating bread crust in order to get along with your mother-in-law, but they’re still pretty strange.
Check out our list of the craziest superstitions carried out by soccer teams and fans below.
Garlic Cloves Keep Spirits Away
Deportivo de la Coruña has won one La Liga title, two Copa del Rey titles, and three Spanish Super Cups.
But beyond their titles, they attribute a lot of their good fortune to a rather unusual superstition that involves fans placing garlic cloves on the home field to ward off evil spirits and increase their luck during a match.
For a while, many fans believed this ritual was the reason that Deportivo de la Coruña had beaten Real Madrid during home games for nearly two decades.
But in 2010, their lucky ritual seemed to lose its power — Real Madrid broke the so-called curse and won.
Celery as a Good Luck Charm
Their mascot, a live bald eagle, doesn’t just sit quietly on the edge of the field — it flies around the field before every game.
How the eagle flies around the field (and even lands on its perch) is believed to determine the outcome of the game. And just because the bird has been trained, it doesn’t mean he always behaves the same.
Despite this particular instance of bad luck, Benfica was still able to beat its competitor, Vitória, 2-0.
Although some athletes have been trying to move away from superstitious beliefs and instead focus on the importance of physical training for good performance, many rituals and beliefs linger on and off the field.
As long as the rituals aren’t harming anyone, they may just give athletes the confidence they need to shake off their fear and show off their hard work by scoring that winning goal.