The ladies were puzzled, including his in-laws. We’re talking about a grave topic, so why did he mention the football match all of a sudden?

Yang Chen went on, "That’s because in a football match, no matter how strong or weak you are, the game always begins with a zero to zero match score. It goes by the rules. As long as they’re willing to give their all in running, intercepting the ball, and shooting the goal, even the weakest football league can become the champion! In other words, it’s where ordinary folks drew their sustenance from, one that represents their perseverance. On the football field, the winner is the champion. Even if the weak ones can only win against a strong team once in their lifetime, it still means that they stand a chance to look up at the stars. That’s the attractive factor of football.“

"But is that really the case? To the football players and audiences, the football match begins with a score of zero to zero, but to the wealthy people, the officials of UEFA, things would be different… Depending on the results of the game, they can win billions from the bets. For their profits, any teams in UEFA, or even FIFA can lose. If a football player refuses to cooperate, they can keep him off the field by saying he hurt his ligament during training. If a coach is stubborn, they can make up an excuse to have him replaced. As for the referee, it’s even simpler. Just don’t let him go on the field… They control the media, the football teams, the luxury tax, and the income of football players. Only major football matches are more valuable, so they don’t care about the smaller ones.“

"Even if the football fans know the match was rigged, what can they do? Other than organizing protests and berating to emphasize their identity as a citizen, there’s nothing else they can do. It’s all a staged play, designed by the bigshots to facilitate their transactions. Unless the public doesn’t watch football, their money would still go into those people’s pockets, be it in the form of tickets or bettings. No matter what region or country they are in, it's all the same, though the money would be going to some other people. This will go on unless they give up on football.“

"Yes, it’s all dirty, but human lives are dirty from the start. I’m like a football player, a coach, or even a powerful team that rose to fame out of nowhere. Those affluent clans and the wealthy people are all keeping an eye on me for two reasons. First, they want me to work for them and help them earn money. Second, they don’t want me to help others earn money, or in other words, the money I earn must be shared with them. These are the rules they have set, and they forbade anyone from breaking them as it would affect their profit.“

"If I do a good job, they’ll let me live and give me the Ballon d'Or or the European Golden Shoe. Maybe they’ll even make my team be the champion of the UEFA Champions League. If I do not do well, they’ll subdue me, making me get hurt so that I’ll fail… The old me was too weak in their eyes, so they never took me seriously. But now that I am a threat to them, they dare not stand idly by. The true mastermind would not show themselves until the last second. After all, they have to let everyone feel that it’s a fair match."

The rest fell silent as they looked at the football on the field with a solemn expression. 

Yang Chen’s words might sound biased, but they contained many harsh truths. 

Liu Qingshan sighed. "Even though we can’t participate in your fight, as someone who has struggled in life, I can understand part of your feelings…"

Yang Chen flashed him a grateful smile, then beckoned Lanlan over. 

The chubby girl was eating popcorn, and when she saw his gesture, she blinked and looked at her half-eaten box of popcorn before running to him. 

Yang Chen carried her onto his lap. As he stroked her silky hair and pinched her soft cheeks, a look of fondness appeared in his eyes. 

"I don’t have a way out of this because they no longer treat me as a weak person. If I want to go on, other than collaborating with them, I can only break the rules they have set. Perhaps I should take them down and trample on their rules!" Yang Chen declared solemnly. 

He cast a deep look at the others and smiled while saying, "It’s not just for me but you all as well, for my child."

Guo Xuehua could no longer resist the urge to run over. Teary-eyed, she hugged her son and granddaughter and started crying. 

Everyone understood her feelings, the helplessness and guilt of a parent for not being able to do anything for their child. At the same time, those tears represented a parent’s pride for their child.

……

A man’s furious shout could be heard from Ning Zhengcheng’s office in the Ning clan. 

"Damn you, Yang Chen! How dare you belittle me! I swear I’ll kill you one day!"

In a fit of fury, he destroyed everything on his desk, shattering them into pieces, but that was not enough to quell his anger. 

Standing before him were Ning Zhengchun and Ning Zhenggang, who seemed frightened by their elder brother’s outburst. 

Undeniably, it was a rare sight. Being ignored and spurned time and again had intensified Ning Zhengfeng’s hatred towards Yang Chen. 

"Calm down, Brother. It’s fine if he refuses to join our side. Since he insists on going against the Luo clan, the Xiao clan, and the Honghuang Sect, he’ll die anyhow. We can hit him when he’s down." Ning Zhengchun made a cutthroat motion. 

Ning Zhenggang furrowed his brows. "The Honghuang Sect has been out of circulation for a millennium. I heard from the elders that many are unaware of its existence. Yang Chen that insolent fool has attracted the nearly forgotten monsters."

With a gloomy expression on his face, Ning Zhengfeng narrowed his eyes. He then took a deep breath and said, "Zhengchun, contact Ning Guangyao. Tell him to terminate all collaboration with the Yang clan in the mundane world. Turn against him and await my orders. Also, send a letter to the Luo clan and the Xiao clan. Tell them our people from all over the world will help them locate Yang Chen and his family’s whereabouts. If they need our help, just tell us."

Ning Zhengchun smirked. "Yes, Brother!"

Ning Zhengfeng then faced Ning Zhenggang. "Bring a few elders to Mount Yinshou and invite that person back to the clan."

"Huh?" Ning Zhenggang said worriedly, "Brother, isn’t it too early to have that person come back? I—"

"Do as I say! What if Yang Chen attacks us, do you think you and I can defend against him!?" Ning Zhengfeng barked. 

Ning Zhenggang paled and nodded his head. "Understood."

At that moment, their facial expressions changed when they noticed something odd. 

Ning Zhengfeng was the first to dash out, and his brothers quickly followed behind. 

Dark clouds had gathered at the southern region of the Ning residence. Thunder was rumbling, and lightning was flickering. 

The sound was deafening as if countless thunder beats had gathered in the sky. 

Many cultivators and elders of the Ning clan had flown over from their residences. In no time, hundreds to thousands of cultivators appeared beside Ning Zhengfeng. 

"Is this…" one of the Ming Water elders asked in a shaky voice, his time full of disbelief. 

Ning Zhengfeng was tense. His eyes were bloodshot as his cheeks trembled. "That’s right! She has finally advanced past the Ruo Water stage. This is the Nine Heavens Thunder Tribulation!"

"This is unbelievable! Luo Qianqiu has just reached a breakthrough a few days ago, and now it’s Ms. Ruozhu’s turn!"

"This is an era of elites. We sure are lucky to witness such a majestic scene!" 

The elders were engaged in chatters, filled with envy and excitement. 

Ning Zhengfeng’s expression was stern. "Silence! This is just the beginning. Who knows if she can withstand three bolts of Tai Qing Heavenly Lightning…"