Spain will not just have the backing of a nation when they go into the Euro 2012 final against Italy in Kiev on Sunday, but can also call on support from the spirit world.
As the country prepares to watch Vicente de Bosque’s side attempt to retain their title, a Cuban traditional Babalawo priest in Madrid will be trying to boost Spain’s chances with black magic based in an ancient Nigerian culture.
Surrounded with voodoo charms and totems, he casts his fortune telling ‘eleke’ necklace and says Spain need the support and confidence of their fans to take on a powerful opponent in the Italians.
“Our enemy has the strength to do it and you can achieve many things with strength,” warns Frank Alfaro as he prays to the god Orula for a Spanish victory.
In a special ritual room in Alfaro’s ‘Miraculous Religion’ shop in the capital, a voodoo priestess lights candles and consults tarot-style cards. A candle shaped like a man and with a picture of Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon attached is studded with pins.
Having cursed Buffon, Lourdes Cumba prays for his opposite number, Spanish ‘keeper Iker Casillas, and performs rituals she is convinced will help Spain’s players, including burning cards of the Italian players and lighting a spirit flame.
“We light up fire so that they won't see anything, to make them blind so they won’t be able to see the ball, so that Spain wins. I didn't do anything wrong, I only made Spain win and made them (Italy) go home,” she says.
So if Spain adds another European trophy to sit alongside the World Cup they won in 2010, it might not have been just the talents of Andres Iniesta and his team mates which won it. Other forces may have had their say…