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· Master of Scaremonies
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Tanzanians quiet on witchcraft
By Emmanuel Muga
BBC Sport, Dar-es-Salaam

Officials from Tanzania's top two clubs are refusing to comment on their punishment for supposedly using witchcraft to influence the outcome of the country's domestic league.

On Monday, the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) concluded that newly-crowned champions Yanga and arch-rivals Simba had performed various witchcraft rituals before their derby on 29 October.

The TFF imposed a fine of US$500 on both clubs.

"The TFF Competitions Committee has decided to punish these teams because they showed unsporting behaviour and indulging in witchcraft," said a federation spokesperson.

Investigative journalists from a national newspaper had published photographs showing fans of each team burying unknown substances in the pitch on the eve of the game.

Other rituals found the players using the spectator's entrances before the game rather than the stadium's main gate - for fear of passing through an area they believe may have been tainted by witchcraft.

The match was very important for both teams as Simba needed to win to keep their title hopes alive, while victory for Yanga would have secured them the title.

The match ended goalless, but Yanga clinched the championship last week.

This is the second time that these teams have been punished for using witchcraft as both received fines in 2003 after performing various rituals on football pitches.

Beliefs in witchcraft are widespread in Tanzanian football and top teams hire witchdoctors for key matches.

Witchdoctors also travel with teams for international matches.

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