China’s state broadcaster CCTV on Sunday (Dec 15) removed Arsenal’s Premier League game against Manchester City from its broadcast schedule following Mesut Ozil’s messages that criticised the country’s policy towards its Muslim Uighur minority.
The Global Times Newspaper said on its Twitter account on Sunday that CCTV took the decision after midfielder Ozil’s comments on Saturday had “disappointed fans and football governing authorities”.
Ozil’s posts called Uighurs “warriors who resist persecution” and criticised both China’s crackdown and the silence of Muslims in response. “(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,” Ozil, who is a Muslim, said in his posts.
An Arsenal spokesman told Reuters that they had no official statement on the issue after CCTV’s decision to show a taped game between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers instead of the originally planned fixture. CCTV did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Arsenal on Saturday tried to distance itself from Ozil’s comments after he posted messages on Twitter and Instagram. “The content he expressed is entirely Ozil’s personal opinion,” the official account of Arsenal said in a post on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform. “As a football club, Arsenal always adheres to the principle of not being involved in politics.”
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