Planet China

Praying for a win

Some would term it a religion, some a philosophy, but what is not in doubt is that the 2,400 year-old practice of Taoism emphasises living in harmony with the ‘Way’. So what does that have to do with a Chinese professional football team?

Having lost its winning ways, Henan Jianye summoned 15 Taoist priests to its home match on September 26 against Shandong Luneng. Sohu Sport says the priests arrived at the Hanghai Stadium before kickoff and “ran a lap around the pitch, chanting, fending off evil spirits and praying”. It seems to have done some good: beleaguered Henan won 2-1.

The club has had a terrible start to the season, losing four and drawing eight, and prior to the Shandong match only winning once. Including last season’s home games, it had lost eight matches in its seemingly cursed home stadium. But when the pre-game exorcism ritual became a hot discussion point online, the management of Henan claimed the 15 harmony-bringers had been hired by the fans and not the club itself.

Sohu Sport points out that Henan is not the first club to turn to Taoism to revive its fortunes. Previously Guangzhou R&F had invited a Taoist master to “quietly practice magic” and after gaining feng shui advice the club repainted all its blue seats in gold.


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