December 20 – Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil who tweeted about China’s detention and persecution of Uighurs and other Muslims in the Xinjiang province, has been removed from the Chinese edition of Konami’s PES 2020 video game.
Netease, the game’s publisher in China, has cut Ozil from all three editions of the game, saying in a statement his comments “hurt the feelings of Chinese fans and violated the sport’s spirit of love and peace. We do not understand, accept or forgive this.”
Ozil had tweeted that in China, “Qurans are burned, mosques were closed down, Islamic theological schools, madrasas were banned, religious scholars were killed one by one. Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet.”
Chinese state television responded immediately removing the scheduled live broadcast of the Arsenal vs Manchester City Premier League match.
Arsenal distanced themselves from the tweet saying in a statement: “As a football club, Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.”
The club has built a strong social media following in China which it has built, along with Chinese sponsor support, over a number of seasons.
While Ozil’s new found human rights morality has been commended by many, it is nevertheless a somewhat selective morality.
Ozil is a supporter of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan who was a witness at his wedding earlier this year. Erdogan has presided over an increasingly authoritarian Turkish regime since becoming president in 2014 and recently launched an ethnic cleansing campaign of his own against Kurds in Syria.
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