October 7, 2008 / 6:19 PM / 11 years ago

Soccer player drowns in ritual swim

HARARE (Reuters) - A Zimbabwean soccer player drowned in a crocodile infested river during a ritual to cleanse his team of bad spirits before a match, a state newspaper said on Tuesday.

The Chronicle quoted unnamed sources as saying about 16 players from second division side Midland Portland Cement were told to swim in the Zambezi river in the resort town of Victoria Falls ahead of a soccer match on Sunday.

“The technical team told every player to get into the river so that they could be cleansed of bad spirits,” it said.

The paper quoted local police commander Peter Rodzi as saying that after the swim, the other players had noticed that one of the team was missing.

“The area where the team was swimming is prohibited as the current is strong. The river is also infested with crocodiles and hippos,” said Rodzi.

Belief in the power of spirits is widespread in Zimbabwe and many African countries.

Reporting by McDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Matthew Tostevin

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