The all-time record scorer for China criticized the regime. His son Hao Runze was sacked by his Serbian team after pressures from Beijing
by Massimo Introvigne
On June 5, Bitter Winter reported on Hao Haidong, the legendary soccer player who scored 41 goals for the Chinese national team, the record in China’s history, and with his goals took China to its only World Cup in 2002. On the anniversary of the Tiananmen carnage, Hao went public with his wife Ye Zhaoying, herself a retired sport star and an Olympic medalist as a badminton player, and stated that after originally believing in the Party, they had “reached the conclusion” that the CCP is a “terrorist organization” and should be “kicked out of humanity.”
The son of Hao Haidong, 23-year-old Hao Runze, is himself a professional soccer player, who played for several years in Spain. He then transferred to a Serbian team, Radnički Niš, He made his debut there on May 31, 2020, scoring a decisive equalizer goal in the last minutes of his team’s game against Napredak in the Serbian Super League.
Chinese media congratulated him and predicted Hao Runze will follow his famous father and will be called to play for China’s national team. On June 3, Hao Runze played in the quarter final Serbian Cup match between Radnički Niš and Cukaricki. However, on June 9, days after his parents had criticized the CCP, Radnički Niš abruptly released Hao Runze.
After criticism by international media, Radnički Niš claimed that its move had nothing to do with politics, and that Hao was released when his contract expired on May 30, before his parents went public with their criticism of the CCP on June 4. Unfortunately for Radnički Niš, even Chinese media had reported that on June 3, Hao was still playing for the Serbian team, which would have been impossible (and even illegal under international soccer rules) had his contract expired on May 30 without renewal. Additionally, Hao would have been sacked a few days after his performance in the match against Napredak had been hailed as outstanding.
It became thus crystal-clear that Radnički Niš had lied, and that Hao’s dismissal was politically motivated, another CCP vendetta against his family. In China, sons are punished for the sins of the fathers, and the long arm of the Dragon certainly extends to Serbia, a country that supported China when the latter was censored for its abysmal human rights record.
James Palmer, deputy editor of Foreign Policy, and a well-known specialist of China, tweeted that, “It’s going to be pretty telling whether Hao Runze gets picked up by any other European soccer club, or whether the fear of Chinese retaliation is too strong. I would bet on the second, which tells you we haven’t really gotten anywhere after the NBA fiasco.” Palmer was referring to Chinese reactions after NBA’s Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support to Hong Kong protesters. The CCP reacted by cancelling the broadcasting of several NBA games in China, and the NBA, fearful of losing millions, in turn censored Morey and apologized to China, a move that was heavily criticized as “disgusting” by U.S. politicians.