Ashira recounts day he encountered ‘black magic’ as a KPL ref

Referee Zakaria Ashira has been puzzling over a curious case in 2018 when his red card ‘disappeared’ as he reached his pockets to dish out a red card for an unnamed Kenyan Premier League (KPL) player.

As is his pre-match procedure, Ashira had double-checked that he had all his cards with him and remains adamant to date only one thing explains the mysterious disappearance – black magic.

In Kenya the practice of witchcraft has been debated by many and believed to be exercised by a lot of clubs for ‘success’ either to just win a match, lift a title or evade relegation with top Kenyan clubs Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards not exceptional.

Ashira who has undergone a member association MA course – which makes him eligible to be appointed a FIFA referee – recalls the day he was in charge of a match in Kisumu where he saw and experienced what was only a story to him before the material day.

The Mombasa resident arrived very early as usual to inspect the two teams whom he does not want them revealed. He whistled the start of the match.

“ Witchcraft is well and truly a part of Kenyan football. I went to Kisumu to officiate a match and I don’t want to reveal the names of the teams,” Ashira elaborated adding, “after a player made a red-card offense I blew my whistle and went to send him off.

“I reached for my pocket but couldn’t find my red card. I searched every pocket to no avail and as play continued later I found all my cards tucked inside my breast pocket! I’ve never wrapped whatever happened around my head,” Ashira said during a sports show on Mulembe FM.

According to Ashirah, witchcraft exists and it is no secret in our football.

He says that that is the most baffling experience in his career as a whistler.

Cases of black magic – players fiddling with face towels, water gallons, tiny bottles or strange objects near goal posts after booting in goals especially in the dying minutes – is not new to African football.

In December 2016 Rwanda reportedly banned witchcraft from soccer after a player interrupted a match to dig up bad juju believing that it had helped Rayons Sports striker Moussa Camara to score an equalizer against Mukura FC.

Following that incident the SUN football reported that African chiefs resorted to ban players performing witchcraft- as there were fears it is used to gain an unfair advantage during games.