Racing Club & the alleged curse imposed on them by Indipendiente after burrying seven black cats in stadium

Racing Club & the alleged curse imposed on them by Indipendiente after burrying seven black cats in stadium

Mark Kinyanjui 18:00 - 26.05.2024

When incensed Indipendiente fans allegedly burried seven black cats inside Racing Club's stadium which set off a 35-year-curse that saw the latter club go trophyless

Football is no stranger to curses. From Benfica's famed hex cast by former coach Belá Guttman, to Bayer Leverkusen’s inability to win trophies (which was finally brought to an end in 2024)  and Australia's alleged World Cup drought being attributed to a debt with a Mozambican sorcerer, the sport is teeming with supernatural stories.

 Yet, few curses possess the enduring mystique of Racing Club’s cursed goal—a tale of heartbreak and legend involving seven black cats supposedly buried in one of Argentina’s most storied stadiums.

The rise and fall of Racing Club

Racing Club, known as La Academia for its early 20th-century dominance, was a powerhouse in Argentine football. 

The club won the First Division title 18 times, including a record seven consecutive championships from 1913 to 1919, five of which were undefeated. After a relatively dry spell in the 1920s to 1950s, Racing achieved iconic success in 1967, becoming the first Argentine team to lift the Intercontinental Cup by defeating Celtic.

However, not all Argentines celebrated Racing’s triumph. Supporters of historic rival Independiente, also from Avellaneda, were incensed by their neighbor's victory, especially after their own team lost the Intercontinental Cup in 1965 and 1966 to Internazionale.

Moreover, with a distance of just 300 metres between their stadiums it makes for a derby like no other. 

Enter the Myth

Legend has it that some disgruntled Independiente fans, allegedly encouraged by a local witch, took drastic measures. Taking advantage of a night watchman at Racing Stadium who supported Independiente, they supposedly buried seven dead black cats to jinx Racing. Six were buried under one of the goals, with the seventh in a secret location.

While the story might sound far-fetched, Racing’s fortunes did take a turn for the worse. In December 1967, Independiente beat Racing 4-0 and won the Primera Division title. Racing didn’t lift another trophy for years, and their struggles were compounded by financial woes and misfortune on the pitch.

The hunt for the cats

In 1980, Racing, trophy-less since 1967, reportedly decided enough was enough. Coach Juan Carlos Lorenzo allegedly ordered the cats to be dug up. However, only six were found. Racing tried countermeasures, such as burying frogs—symbols of cleansing and rebirth—but to no avail. By the end of 1983, Racing was relegated for the first time in its history after losing to Independiente.

Racing’s misfortune seemed boundless. By 1998, in an act of desperation, the club held a religious procession with 15,000 fans led by the Virgin of Luján. Father Jorge Della Barca threw holy water onto the pitch, declaring, “This is not an exorcism but an act of faith. The Racing fans deserve all the good times that they have not received for a long time.” The event, which cost over $30,000, concluded with a rock concert and a comedian's act but ended in another defeat.

The curse broken?

Racing’s fortunes began to change with the arrival of coach Reinaldo “Mostaza” Merlo in 2000. Merlo, a deep believer in superstitious rituals, supposedly insisted on finding the seventh cat. According to legend, it was finally located after a section behind the goal was dug up.

Whether due to mystical intervention or Merlo's tactical acumen, Racing put together a solid team and, on December 27, 2001, won the Argentine championship, ending a 35-year drought.

The story of the buried cats is shrouded in mystery and contradiction. The timeline of events varies, and key details change in different retellings. The first coach to demand the digging up of the cats changes from Lorenzo to Racing legend Alfio Basile. Even the quote attributed to player José Raúl “Toti” Iglesias about the haunted goal remains unverified.

When asked, Iglesias denied the tale outright to The Herald: “There is no truth to that quote, nor do I remember it. Some things go around for years, but it’s not true, or at least I never saw it.”

The legend of Racing’s cursed goal persists in the memories of fans and the annals of Argentine football. The goal witnessed countless misfortunes, like Luis Rueda’s infamous penalty miss in the 2003 Copa Libertadores, but also moments of triumph, such as Claudio “Turco” García’s handball goal against Independiente in 1992.

Ultimately, as Father Della Barca suggested, the best way to lift a curse is simply to play good football. Racing’s eventual success under Merlo proved that dedication and belief—whether in tactics or talismans—can turn the tide of fortune.