A Central China soccer team saw a rare win at home yesterday after Taoist priests conducted a blessing before the match.
Discussions of divine intervention aside, the blessing did not score points with one Chinese football legend turned sports commentator, who called the ceremony “ridiculous,” media reported.
Fans of Henan Jianye F.C. had organized the ceremony two days before the club faced off against Shandong Luneng.
The ceremony was not endorsed or organized by the team, club officials said.
Photos show 15 Taoist priests dressed in black robes in front of a colorful makeshift altar set up on the pitch at Zhengzhou Hanghai Stadium.
The priests made ritual offerings and waved sacred objects during the short ceremony among flags that read “Jianye will be victorious, the Heavens wish it!”
Ranked 12th in the Chinese Super League, Henan Jianye now has a record of two wins, eight draws and four losses thanks to yesterday’s victory against Shandong Luneng, which is ranked fifth.
While fans were happy with the results, Hao Haidong, former national team player and soccer commentator, spoke out against the ceremony.
“Are we even in the 21st century? How can modern people do something like that?” said Hao during a livestream broadcast, in which he also called the ceremony an “insult to the players, coaches and club crew.
“If you are incompetent, things don’t change even if you seek out supernatural help,” said Hao.
— Global Times
The 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily