Modern Maledictions: The Case of Cristiano Ronaldo

The February 2016 issue of GQ features a cover story on soccer mega-star Cristiano Ronaldo. The profile, while typical of a celebrity spread in many ways (The cars! The money! The private islands!), also suggests that sporting curses (which we talked about here and here) are very much alive in our modern world.

According to the story, the Real Madrid forward was the subject of a curse a few years back. The curse in question, laid by a man named Pepe the Wizard, is thought to be responsible for a series of injuries which sent Ronaldo to the sidelines on-and-off over the course of 2008-2009. Ronaldo’s solution? A counter-curse.

Here’s the story according to GQ:

“During one exceptional stretch of poor play and injuries in 2009, a sorcerer called Pepe the Wizard came forward to explain that he had been paid to cast a spell on Cristiano. He had no personal vendetta, Pepe said—it was just business. A Portuguese sorcerer (and CR fan) counter-cast a spell, and eventually Cristiano recovered to full health.”
(Daniel Riley, GQ, pg. 70)

So what does this tell us about today’s world of cursing? First, it suggests that those who perform curses can be seen as professionals—their expertise can be bought regardless of the matter addressed. The first man, Pepe the Wizard, highlights his lack of attachment to the curse, portraying himself as a facilitator-for-hire rather than someone who is significantly connected to the situation. (Although it must be noted that the second sorcerer identifies themself as a supporter of Ronaldo, suggesting some personal motivation on their part). Second, it suggests that a curse can be removed by counter-measures taken by another cursing professional. Notice here that Ronaldo did not attempt to remove the curse himself, but rather used someone of similar status to the person who enacted the initial curse (and even more interesting, someone from his home country of Portugal). This suggests an important third point: cursing and the removal of curses is not a lay-person’s skill, but rather belongs to that of a cursing professional who is seen as having the knowledge-base and efficacy to act on such matters.

Ronaldo looks pretty robust in his GQ spread—it’s likely that he’s recovered from his bout with Pepe the Wizard. That such an anecdote was included in such a high-profile story indicates the ongoing relevance of curses and the belief that not only are some persons able to curse, but that they might even be able to do so effectively.

Photo by Ludovic Péron.

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