China’s state-run CCTV says it will not show an live broadcast of English soccer club Arsenal Vs Manchester city. The ban comes after a team member made critical comments over China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslims.
CCTV banned showing Arsenal’s match against Manchester City this weekend, despite the club’s attempt to disassociate itself from the remarks. Instead, it will show a prerecorded game between Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal’s local rival, and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
This comes months after an NBA general manager’s defence of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Which also led to a backlash from China. Arsenal will now look to see if the comments from player Mesut Ozil will lead to further consequences.
In Instagram and Twitter posts, Ozil accused Muslims of staying silent over the mistreatment of the Uighur Muslims in China. Also becoming one of the most prominent public figures to condemn Beijing on the issue. “Korans are burned.
Mosques are closed. Their schools are banned,” said the Muslim player, who is often seen praying on the field, “but the Muslim community is silent.”
Mesut Ozil Tweets Over Muslims Detention in China
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) December 13, 2019
Arsenal Football Club responded with a post on Weibo, distancing itself from the player’s comments.
“The team said the content published is Ozil’s personal opinion.“ Arsenal, as a football club, has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.” A number of commenters on Weibo said the club needed to take further action. One user posted an image of a Arsenal jersey emblazoned with Ozil’s name cut up with a pair of scissors.
Arsenal may have been attempting to protect itself from any bitter response from China. The country has at least 187 million soccer fans, based on Nielsen estimates. Arsenal, which also operates a sports bar and restaurant in China, announced plans in early 2019 to expand its chain. The football club is also trying to grow its fan base in China.
Uighur Muslims Detained in China
China has incarcerated over a million Uighur Muslims according to a United Nations report. Consequently China says it’s fighting separatism and religious extremism.
China also blacked out some NBA games in October after the Houston Rockets’ General Manager Daryl Morey posted a tweet in support of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong. He deleted the message, but China took umbrage and the NBA’s sponsors in the country cut ties with the US league.
Arsenal’s response mirrors the post by the basketball team’s billionaire owner Tilman Fertitta, Bloomberg reported.
More recently, Chinese video-sharing app TikTok suspended, and then later restored, the account of a user after she posted viral videos critical of the Chinese government’s actions in Xinjiang.