Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil has been deleted from a number high-profile football video games in China in the aftermath of his criticism of the country’s treatment of Uighur Muslims.
Özil challenged China for their ‘persecution’ of the Uighur population – something which Arsenal quickly moved to distance themselves from.
Arsenal’s 3-0 loss to Manchester City was removed from television soon after Özil‘s comments, and things have been taken one step further as Goal have confirmed that the German has been removed from various games in China, including FIFA Online and Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 Mobile.
NetEase, the company behind PES, released a statement (via The Independent) in which they blasted Özil for his message and suggested that he would never be restored to the games in China.
“The German player Özil posted an extreme statement about China on social media,” they wrote. “The speech hurt the feelings of Chinese fans and violated the sport’s spirit of love and peace. We do not understand, accept or forgive this!”
Özil will remain in the games in all other countries, but players in China will no longer be able to find the midfielder.
The Arsenal man’s comments have divided opinion in football. Many have suggested that the German should not be getting involved in the situation, while others have praised the German for using his platform to draw attention to the horrific allegations against China.
However, while Arsenal may not have supported Özil, German side FC Köln have backed him and decided to end their academy relationship with China. Former board member Stefan Müller-Römer told Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger that the decision could relate to human rights issues.
“I understand that Germany can’t completely get by without China and that there is an exchange between the two countries but we don’t need China in sport and I stand by that.
“In China human rights are being massively disregarded. A complete surveillance state is being built, one worse than even George Orwell could have imagined. I have followed developments in China for more than 20 years and I have been there several times. I know what I am talking about.”
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