Chinese FA probes club over divine intervention
The Chinese Football Association (CFA) has told Chinese Super League (CSL) side Henan Jianye to seek salvation from goals rather than the gods after Taoist priests performed an on-pitch ritual - and the team duly won at home for the first time in over three months.
The CFA is investigating after fans of the club invited 15 Taoist priests onto the pitch to pray for a good result in last Sunday's match with Shandong Luneng, which Henan went on to win 2-1.
The Paper, a state-run newspaper based in Shanghai, carried a picture of the ritual showing a desk on the pitch covered with a yellow cloth on the eve of the game.
There was incense and three flags fluttered behind the table bearing mantras including "God's will is that Jianye must win".
The CFA said that it had asked Henan, whose fears of relegation eased with the victory at their Zhengzhou Hanghai Stadium home, for an explanation.
"The football pitch is not a religious place and hosting such activities on a public sports field is neither appropriate nor conforming with the image of professional football," the CFA said in a statement.
"Instead of asking for help from gods outside the pitch, Henan should seek victory through self-endeavour and battling on it."
It is not the first time this season a Chinese club have gone to bizarre lengths to get back to winning ways at home.
Guangzhou R&F repainted their blue-coloured stadium gold in July, saying it was better feng shui - and they have not lost there since. - AFP