Superstition has always found its place in football, where poor results of football clubs or players are often blamed on curses and witchcraft. One such story happened in Argentina back in 1967, where the Racing Club was allegedly cursed by their rival club in a curse now known as; The Cat Curse.
For this story, we need to travel back to 1967 in Argentina. Historically, Racing Club was one of the most successful Argentinian clubs, with the 1960s being years, then Racing Club reached their peak. On August 29th, 1967 Racing won Copa Libertadores for the first time in the club’s history after defeating Nacional (2:1). It was a historic moment which also granted them a chance to compete in the Intercontinental Cup, where Racing Club met the Scottish Celtics, who were the European champions at that time. After a 2:2 tie, the teams went into dramatic playoffs. The match did not see a winner until the 3rd playoff which was won by Racing Club. The fans were on their feet and the whole city was in total chaos, however, their rival club, Club Atletico Independiente and their fans were not as happy.
While Racing Club supporters celebrated their title, Independiente supporters broke into the home stadium of Racing where they proceeded to bury 7 dead cats. This so-called ritual was supposed to cast a curse on Racing Club. As silly as it may seem, it did end up working.
Since that day, Racing Club were not the same, in fact, they were far from the Racing club we were used to seeing. With each passing year, Racing were seemingly performing worse. This continued until 1976 when Racing Club were only a point away from relegation, but that was not all. It all escalated rather quickly and only 7 years later, Racing Club were relegated into 2nd division league in 1983. At that point, Racing has not won anything since the Intercontinental Cup trophy, except the Supercopa Sudamericana in 1988. However, their bad luck did not stop there. The same year Racing faced financial problems, which resulted in Racing Club declaring bankruptcy. It all went downhill for this club, and fans started to suspect something was not right. By that time, it was already known that Independiente fans performed a ritual which would cast a spell on Racing Club. But people did not think much about it before, however after all the “bad luck” Racing went through, something had to be done.
In hopes to lift the curse, over 100.000 Racing Club fans gathered and started searching for the 7 cat bodies. Despite their massive number and extensive search, they only found 6 out of 7 buried corpses, with the last one still remaining buried somewhere on the pitch.
Fast forward to 2001 and Racing appointed a new manager, Reinaldo Merlo, who declared he will not be stopped until the last cat body is found. This went so far, that he ordered for the entire pitch to be dug up, demolished and renovated. It might seem extensive, but it paid off. The final and the 7th cat body was found and the course was lifted.
The same year, Racing Club won Argentine Primera División for the first time since 1966. That meant, it took Racing 35 long years to once again stand at the top of Argentina.
From standing on the top of Europe and being a dominant force in Argentina, to the sudden turn of their form, financial problems and relegation, Racing surely experienced something out of this world after the “Cat Curse” was cast on them. For some, it may just seem like a huge coincidence, for others who believe in superstition, this is just another story to add to the list of football curses, just like the one about Béla Guttmann.
Sports journalist, content writer and passionate football lover.