Why an Arsenal soccer game was yanked off the TV in China

Arsenal's Premier League match against Manchester City was pulled from TV in China after Mesut Ozil criticized Beijing's crackdown on Muslims.

AP Photo/Ian Walton
Arsenal's Mesut Ozil criticized China for its brutal treatment of Muslims. Seen here prior the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Manchester City in London, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019.

Chinese television pulled coverage of Arsenal's Premier League match against Manchester City on Sunday after Mesut Ozil, a forward for the London club, criticized Beijing's brutal mass crackdown on ethnic Muslims in the country.

China is the Premier League's most lucrative overseas broadcast market, with the rights sold for $700 million in a three-year deal that runs through 2022.

But instead of the sports channel of Chinese state television showing Ozil featuring in Arsenal's 3-0 loss to City, it scheduled a delayed recording of Tottenham's 2-1 victory over Wolverhampton from earlier Sunday, according to information from the network. 

Streaming service PPTV.com also also canceled a feed of Arsenal's match which featured Ozil for almost an hour before he was substituted amid cheers and some jeers from his own fans. Ozil reacted by kicking his gloves on the touchline.
"How he reacts is up to him and I'll deal with it," interim Arsenal manager Freddie Ljungberg said. "We'll see what it means for the future but of course we want players to behave the right way."

Ljungberg would not discuss the specifics of Ozil's social media post from Friday which embroiled Arsenal in controversy in China.
"The China thing is political," Ljungberg said, "and I'll leave that to the club."

Arsenal used a post on Chinese social media network Weibo to dissociate itself from Ozil's action. "The content he expressed is entirely Ozil's personal opinion," the north London club said. "As a football club, Arsenal always adheres to the principle of not being involved in politics."

Ozil added to condemnation of the detention of more than 1 million Uighurs and other minorities in so-called reeducation camps in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang, where they are subjected to political indoctrination, torture, beatings, and food deprivation, as well as denial of religious and linguistic freedom.

A social media post from Ozil on Friday denounced China for burning Qurans, closing mosques and the killing of religious scholars. The Arsenal player complained that "Muslims stay quiet."

The Chinese Football Association expressed "great indignation and disappointment" at Ozil's comments, according to the Global Times newspaper published by the ruling Communist Party.

China's government increasingly uses the threat of loss of access to the country's growing market as leverage to try to control what companies, universities and others say or do abroad about political issues.

Arsenal will be hoping to avoid the backlash faced by the Houston Rockets earlier this year after the NBA team's general manager, Daryl Morey, tweeted support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong, angering fans and officials in China. The tweet was deleted soon after it was posted, and Rockets owner and billionaire casino and restaurant owner Tilman Fertitta quickly rebuked his GM with a tweet saying that Morey does not speak for the team.

The tweet caused some Chinese corporations to suspend relationships with the NBA.

There is a growing a backlash in China against Ozil, who is Muslim of Turkish descent. "I think he is very wrong," lawyer Chen Wangshu said in Beijing. "As a sportsman, his most important responsibility is to do his job well, or to play good football."

In 2018, Ozil quit Germany's national team following criticism over his decision to pose for a picture with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

"He should be responsible for his career and refrain from making any comment raising and inciting anger in other nations," Chen said.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Why an Arsenal soccer game was yanked off the TV in China
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2019/1215/Why-an-Arsenal-soccer-game-was-yanked-off-the-TV-in-China
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe