‘Blinded and misled’: China turn up pressure on Arsenal after Mesut Ozil criticised the treatment of the nation’s Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang
- Mesut Ozil criticised China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region
- The Arsenal midfielder’s comments provoked a huge backlash on social media
- Chinese state television refused to air Arsenal’s game against Manchester City
China turned up the pressure on Arsenal after Mesut Ozil criticised the treatment of the nation’s Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang.
The Chinese foreign ministry spoke out on Monday claiming Ozil had been ‘blinded and misled’ and invited him to the region which he referred to as the republic of East Turkestan in online posts on Friday.
China’s state-run television channel CCTV and online broadcasters PPTV cancelled the live coverage of Arsenal’s game against Manchester City on Sunday as part of the furious reaction. The Global Times, a Chinese tabloid newspaper under the auspices of the People’s Daily and closely connected to the ruling Communist Party, published an opinion column on his ‘malicious accusations’.
Mesut Ozil has spoken out about the treatment of Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region
The article branded the former Germany midfielder ‘shallow and narrow-minded’ and said he had ‘triggered indignation’ among Chinese citizens.
There have been reports of Ozil’s fan pages being removed by online search engines and social media footage of football fans burning and defacing shirts bearing his name. Ozil has succeeded in bringing attention to the plight of more than a million Uighurs in Xinjiang amid claims they are being unlawfully detained, tortured and indoctrinated by the state.
As of Monday night, Arsenal had no plans to go beyond the statement they made distancing themselves from Ozil’s comments.
The Gunners have been caught in a backlash which has echoes of Chelsea’s problems when their Brazilian winger Kenedy insulted China with a series of social media posts during a pre-season tour in 2017.
China has become the Premier League’s most lucrative overseas broadcast market with three years’ of rights until 2022 sold for £525million.
A demonstration in Istanbul in support of Uighur Muslims sees an Ozil poster brandished