Arsenal’s German playmaker Mesut Ozil’s likeness has been removed from the Chinese iteration of the popular Pro Evolution Soccer video game franchise following his criticism of the Chinese government’s treatment of Uighur Muslims.
Ozil railed against the alleged persecution of the Muslim group on social media, with many of the more than 1 million population of the Turkic-speaking Muslims understood to be interned in high security prison camps, and also stating that his fellow Muslims should do more to highlight their plight.
However, Chinese authorities accused Ozil of peddling ‘fake news’ and said that he was ‘hurting the feelings’ of Chinese football supporters due to his outspoken comments. The tale took another twist when on Wednesday it was announced by NetEase, the Chinese publishers of the popular Pro Evolution Soccer series, that Ozil’s character was being removed from the game.
“The German player Ozil posted an extreme statement about China on social media,” they said in a statement. “The speech hurt the feelings of Chinese fans and violated the sports spirit of love and peace. We do not understand, accept or forgive this.”
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