With the help of two priestesses and a rain stick shaped like an ancient Mesoamerican god, Mexico’s ‘Grand Warlock’ cast a spell Wednesday to help the nation at the World Cup. Antonio Vazquez -- better known as ‘El Brujo Mayor,’ a soothsayer famed for his annual predictions on politics and the news -- invoked the plumed serpent god Quetzalcoatl, worshipped by the Aztecs and other pre-Columbian peoples, to get the Mexican national team to at least the quarter-finals in Russia. ‘Give me all your force and power to break through heaven’s doors, let Mexico reach the fifth match. Quetzalcoatl, let it be so,’ he said. Mexico make their debut Sunday against reigning champions Germany in Group F, hoping to make it past the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time. — AFP
Australia’s Jackson Irvine laughed off suggestions that teammate Trent Sainsbury will ‘shave his (Irvine’s) hair off’ if Irvine scores a goal. The midfielder stands out from the rest of the Socceroos squad because of his long locks. ‘It came up last night actually,’ he said. ‘Trent Sainsbury tried to convince me if I score, then he gets to shave my hair off after the game so... I haven’t quite agreed to that bet yet but it has become part of my trademark. I’ve become quite emotionally attached to it so I can’t see it going anywhere soon.’ — AFP
German dope reporter won’t make the WC
German journalist Hajo Seppelt, whose investigative reporting exposed Russia’s alleged state-sponsored doping, will not travel to the football World Cup tournament out of security concerns, national broadcaster ARD said. World Cup host Russia had initially refused to issue Seppelt a visa, but later relented after massive international pressure, with FIFA stressing the importance of media freedom to President Vladimir Putin’s government. But Germany’s security agencies have since evaluated the situation and found that it was risky for the journalist to travel to Russia, said ARD in a statement late Wednesday. Russia’s powerful Investigative Committee has said it intended to question Seppelt on his arrival because he was a key witness in its own investigation into the doping scandal. Seppelt’s documentaries on doping among Russian athletes sparked a storm and ended up with Russia being banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics. — AFP
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