The Lightning Storm That Wiped Out a Soccer Team

  • Whether you call it soccer or football, the game is (almost) always filled with drama and emotion...

Quite a few bizarre sports incidents have been recorded throughout history. There’s no shortage of such events, from animals breaching the pitch to the Norwegian referee that couldn’t blow the whistle due to losing his teeth. However, all eleven players from the visiting team getting killed on the field during a friendly game in Congo definitely tops it all. 

The possible causes for the dramatic incident ranged from witchcraft to black magic to a lightning strike. And while an analytical mind would instantly choose the latter, there’s no explanation for why the opposing team’s players were left unscathed. So, join us as we look closer into this story and try to determine what happened. 

An Ordinary Soccer (Football) Match in Congo

In October 1998, the Bena Tshadi team faced opponents from Basanga in a friendly soccer match during a thunderstorm. It’s the type of event you could easily find on as a punter looking for variety. Nothing unusual so far, especially considering that lightning storms are a common sight in the country and all across Africa. The data is supported by NASA, which recognized the Congo Basin as the place with the highest lightning activity at one point.

However, things took a turn for the worse when all eleven players from the Bena Tshadi team fell to the ground. Furthermore, another thirty people watching the match were also reportedly injured during the incident. Since Congo was going through a civil war at the time, the details surrounding the incident are incomplete or missing. But the people at the stadium and public opinion came up with three possible “suspects”: witchcraft, black magic, or a mysterious lightning strike.

Could it be Something Supernatural?

Since the strange event happened in Congo and Africa has a long history of voodoo practices, the spectators did not hesitate to accuse the home team of foul play. It may sound crazy reading this in Europe or the US, but there’s a long relationship between voodoo and sports in Africa.

Voodoo Claims in Soccer

One of the most popular incidents involving voodoo and soccer happened in 2014 when Portugal was set to face Ghana in Group G of the FIFA World Cup. Nana Kwaku Bonsam, a renowned Ghanaian witch doctor whose name translates to “Devil,” was determined to help Ghana win their match against Portugal by any means necessary. 

That year Cristiano Ronaldo was diagnosed with tendinosis, a condition that causes swelling, stiffness, and pain in a tendon. Despite medical knowledge that the illness develops over a long period of time due to repeated micro tears, Bonsam publicly claimed responsibility for Ronaldo’s injury. In an interview with Angel FM radio station, Bonsam claimed responsibility for Ronaldo’s injury and stated that he was working on him. He even said that he went as far as obtaining four dogs to summon a specific spirit called Kahwiri Kapam to aid in his mission.

However, even a person that is invested in voodoo can’t go as far as believing some witch doctor had the power to put down the eleven players. Especially taking into consideration that people from the stands got injured as well. If an evil spirit was sent to annihilate the opposing team, why go after the spectators as well?

So, no matter how appealing, the theories of voodoo or black magic lose ground to another cause for the incident. And most of the time, if it’s not supernatural, you just have to remove the “super” to get to the bottom of it. 

Testing the Lightning Strike Theory

If we rule out witchcraft and voodoo from the equation, a lightning strike remains the only plausible explanation for the freak incident. Luckily, some footage of the match online can shed some light on finding the truth. 

As a matter of fact, the lightning bolt illuminates the sky, and the commentators assert that it struck the field. Although the actual strike is not discernible in the video footage, the flash is visible, and it corresponds with numerous players from both teams collapsing less than two seconds later, with many holding their heads.

Naturally, chaos erupts on the pitch as it becomes evident that a few players have sustained injuries, prompting medics and other players to hasten to their aid. After a few minutes, one player is carried off the field, appearing to be unresponsive. Also, It seems that a decision was made to evacuate the pitch by any means necessary in case of another strike.

Despite this, some have questioned why only the Bena Tshadi team was affected by the lightning strike. Some have speculated that the team’s use of iron-studded boots may have made them more susceptible to being struck. However, there is no conclusive evidence to support this claim, nor is there evidence to suggest that the opposing team did not also use the same type of equipment.

In addition, it is worth noting that only about 10% of those struck by lightning actually die, which further adds to the mystery of the incident. Without any official reports or concrete evidence, it is only possible to speculate that a natural phenomenon caused this chaos.

Final Thoughts 

The lightning storm that wiped out a soccer team in Congo remains a mystery. While supernatural explanations such as witchcraft and black magic were initially proposed, they quickly lost credibility in the face of a more plausible explanation – a lightning strike. Nevertheless, questions remain as to why only the Bena Tshadi team was affected and why the death toll was so high, considering that only a small percentage of those struck by lightning usually die. With incomplete and missing information, the incident continues to captivate and puzzle sports enthusiasts and analysts alike.