Arsenal midfield maestro, Mesut Ozil, has been removed from Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 in China, following comments about Uighur Muslims and their treatment at the hands of the Chinese Government.
German international, Ozil, is known for his creative midfield play. He recently referred to the Uighur Muslim population in China as “warriors who resist persecution”. The comments have led to his avatar being removed from PES 2020 within China, according to the BBC.
Ozil has been critical of the Chinese government and of the fact that some Muslims have remained silent regarding the treatment of Uighur Muslims in China.
Since his comments, the Chinese foreign ministry retorted with their belief that the German had been “deceived by fake news“.
Former Arsenal boss, and current FIFA chief of global football development, Arsene Wenger, said: “Mesut Ozil has freedom of speech like everyone else and he uses his notoriety to express his opinions, which are not necessarily shared by everybody… What he says is about himself and not Arsenal.”
Ozil’s comments are based on claims made by human rights groups, that around one million Uighur Muslims have been detained in “vocational training centres”.
Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives passed a bill to counter “arbitrary detention, torture and harassment” of Uighur Muslims. The bill is yet to pass through the Senate and the President.
Leaked documents, seen by BBC Panorama, shed light on the conditions in the camps. The documents instructed camp operators to “never allow escapes” and “increase discipline and punishment” and one former inmate described being hit on the back of the head with a metal baton.
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have repeatedly tried to emphasise that the camps are educational centres, rather than prisons, and are intended to combat religious extremism. Officials have claimed that people go free from the camps once they “graduate”.
NetEase, who published the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise in China, have told the BBC that, “The German player Ozil posted an extreme statement about China on social media… 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”.