Sports | June 7, 2020 11:20 am

Soccer Legend Hao Haidong Calls for Downfall of Chinese Communist Party

China's leading all-time goalscorer became the highest-profile Chinese national to criticize the government

Hao Haidong China
Hao Haidong reacts after he scored the golden goal in extra time during the Semi-final match of the 2001 Asian Cup Winners Cup.
Stanley Chou/ALLSPORT

On the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Chinese soccer’s all-time leading goalscorer put the government on blast in a video that quickly became a censored topic in the country’s domestic internet. Hao Haidong, who starred for the Chinese national team in the late 1990s and early 2000s, was part of an interview released on YouTube on Thursday, in which he called for the downfall of the Chinese Communist Party.

According to The Washington Post, Hao read off an 18-point “manifesto” regarding the country’s ruling party, saying that the “Communist Party should be kicked out of humanity.” Among his points were condemnations of the government’s handling of the Hong Kong protests, the coronavirus pandemic, and its continued handling of Tibet.

Despite being hosted on YouTube, which is blocked on the country’s domestic internet, the video quickly made the rounds in China, leading to Titan, one of China’s biggest state-run sports sites, to release a statement in which they “strongly condemn” the video. That statement was then altered to remove Hao’s name before being taken down entirely.

Hao has a history of criticizing Chinese government organizations, but his previous comments were usually centered around the country’s soccer authorities. This is the first time that he’s come out strongly against the government itself, and in doing so, he becomes the highest-profile Chinese national to do so.

Hao currently is “believed” to live in Spain, according to The Washington Post, and said in the video that his concerns about the sporting authorities had morphed into a broader unhappiness with the government of his home country. His comments led to his name becoming the most censored term in China this week, even surpassing references to the Tiananmen Square massacre.

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Read the full story at The Washington Post