China pulled UK soccer match broadcast after a player criticized it online

Mesuit Özil, Arsenal’s midfielder. (Photo courtesy: Guardian)

(, Dec16’19) – China pulled a scheduled broadcast of a soccer match being played in the UK because a player had made on online criticism of its widely reported repression of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, reported Dec 15, citing Sky News. The game took place at 4 pm, which was midnight in China.

The report said China’s broadcasting station CCTV 5 did not show the Arsenal-Manchester City soccer match after Arsenal’s midfielder Mesuit Özil posted on Twitter and Instagram, condemning China for its policies on Uyghur Muslims.

The report cited China’s party-run English-language Global Times newspaper as saying the match would not be shown because Özil “disappointed fans and football governing authorities”. Instead, the channel showed the Tottenham Hotspur-Wolverhampton Wanderers game that occurred earlier Sunday, it added.

Özil, a practicing Muslim of Turkish descent, was stated to have posted that Uighurs were “warriors who resist persecution.”

“(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,” Reuters has quoted him as saying in his posting.

Arsenal has tried to distance itself from its player’s remarks in a Dec 14 statement on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform. “The content he expressed is entirely Özil’s personal opinion,” Arsenal was quoted as saying on its account. “As a football club, Arsenal always adheres to the principle of not being involved in politics.”


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