So you don’t wash your jersey while the US National Team is playing in the World Cup. That’s a classic. But “soccerstitions” are on a whole different level in certain parts of the world. Here are some of the more fascinating ones:
The first soccer game on Argentinian soil was played in 1867. Since then, the country has built up a reputation as a soccer-obsessed nation, filled with faithful rituals: watching the game in the same room, with the same people (when it’s a family, they often sit in order of age), wearing the same clothes, each sitting in the same chair, while eating the same food. Also, many Argentines write their team’s name on a piece of paper and put it in (or under) the fridge.
Portugal’s most successful club (with 14 million supporters worldwide) congregates its fans at the Stadium of Light in Lisbon to watch an eagle named Vitória fly overhead. If the eagle finishes its flight and lands precisely on its perch, it will be a good game for the team. Vitória lives with her bird pal Glory in the stadium and, sure enough, the team has an eagle on its crest.
Fans of opposing teams often use different routes to travel to matches, believing the rival has already contaminated a certain route. Once at the stadium, many avoid the shared entrance. Intense drums, dancing, clapping, and singing are musts during games, as well as the occasional fan dressed as a juju man.
If for some accidental reason you missed watching a game with your friends and your team wins, Uruguayans will not allow you to watch any further games with them. Many also turn the TV to mute during free kicks or penalty shots, and then turn their back towards it.
Mexican fans often wear special-edition jerseys of a past tournament that was won, so as to not break the winning streak. At times salt is sprinkled towards the field to drive out bad luck. Rosaries, as well as statues of saints like the Virgin of Guadalupe, are brought along to the bleachers to assure goals and the protection of the team.
In the 1940s, the owner of a Brazilian club had a dog named Biriba, who became famous by breaking free from his leash and chasing the ball into the opposing net. Biriba also peed against a player’s leg and, sure enough, the club won the state championship. From then on, Biriba was prompted to pee on many more legs.
With their proximity to Argentina (and common rivalry), Chilean fans have a few “soccerstitions” of their own: wearing the jersey from 2015 or 2016’s Copa America win; getting a haircut before the game; leaving the house at the same time and stopping for gas at the same place, before parking the car in the same lucky spot at the stadium.
If you thought the vuvuzela was the only soccer ritual of South African fans, you need an update. The makarapa, a miner’s helmet turned work of art, is a common sight among South African supporters. But the most striking “soccerstition” might be when fans carry a homemade casket to the stadium. That is, of course, so the opposing team knows it will soon be buried.
Spaniards are big on matching the candles they light for a game with their jersey’s colors. The Spanish National team has received a duplicate of the Crucifix de Caravaca (known to be a good-luck charm), making it a popular object of devotion among fans. Some Spaniards also bring bundles of garlic to the stadium, or sprinkle cloves of garlic around the field to repel bad spirits.
The English don’t necessarily obsess over the color of their undergarments, but they sure insist on wearing the same pair that was worn on the day of a victory. If said underpants are forgotten on a game day, a loss could make the fan feel guilty for the rest of his days. Another English ritual is to wear the away jersey of a team for the away games, never during home games.
Astrid Harders is a senior writer for Studio@Gizmodo.