This afternoon’s Arsenal vs Manchester City game was slated to be shown in China, however following comments from Mesut Ozil about the country’s treatment of Uighur Muslims on Friday, the Chinese government have decided they will no longer be broadcasting the game, with a replay of the Everton vs Spurs game playing instead.
Following the comments China’s national English newspaper, The Global Times, reported that the match would not be shown as scheduled because Ozil’s comments had offended both fans and governing authorities alike. In part of his post Ozil commented on the general mistreatment of Muslims while they continue to stay quiet. “(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.”
Arsenal attempted to distance themselves from the comments early on Saturday, posting a message on their official Weibo account (a popular social media platform in China, similar to Twitter).
“The content he expressed is entirely Ozil’s personal opinion.
Mesut Ozil not a popular man in China
As a football club, Arsenal always adheres to the principle of not being involved in politics.”
Arsenal received a fair amount of backlash on the platform once their statement was posted, with fans calling for the midfielder to be excluded from the club as well as one fan going as far as to post a photo of a shredded Ozil shirt.
It isn’t the first time that the Chinese government have been involved in a war of words with a sporting organisation, after a debacle with the NBA earlier this year during the pre-season tour of China. Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey made comments that the government didn’t agree with, which led to the NBA having to apologise amid a huge backlash in the country.
It is something we are likely going to see more of throughout the coming years, as people will continue to speak their mind. It just remains to see if clubs and organisations will continue to apologise for these perfectly valid comments.
Arsenal are still looking to find an upturn in results following the sacking of Unai Emery.