China Bans Premier League Football Match After Player Criticised Communist Party

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal in action during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Brighton & Hove Albion at Emirates Stadium on December 05, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

China’s state television network, CCTV, banned a Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester City after Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil criticised the Chinese Communist Party for imprisoning millions of Turkic Muslims in concentration camps.

Mesut Ozil, a German Turkish Muslim heritage midfielder for English Premier League team Arsenal FC, in a social media post criticised China and the silence of Muslim nations, referring to Uyghurs as “warriors who resist persecution.” China’s Uyghur Muslim ethnic group are believed to be the majority of the estimated 1-3 million people facing severe human rights violations in the over 1,000 concentration camps communists are believed to be running in western Xinjiang province.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that Ozil had been “deceived by fake news” and invited the footballer to “have a look” for himself, reports the BBC.

The Chinese Football Association said that Ozil’s comments had “hurt the feelings” of Chinese fans, calling his statement “unacceptable”.

The Global Times, a state-run mouthpiece of the Communist party, announced on Twitter that CCTV would not air the match on Sunday between Arsenal and Manchester City.

In the aftermath of the controversy surrounding Ozil’s tweet, Arsenal distanced itself from their star player, saying: “Following social media messages from Mesut Ozil on Friday, Arsenal Football Club must make it clear that these are Mesut’s personal views.”

“Arsenal is always apolitical as an organisation,” the London club added.

It is believed that between one and three million prisoners from ethnic minority groups in China, mostly Muslim Uyghurs, are being imprisoned in concentration-style camps.

Survivors of the camps have claimed that prisoners are subjected to torturerapeforced sterilisation, and organ harvesting.

“I thought that I would rather die than go through this torture and begged them to kill me”, one female survivor said of her times in the camp.

In May Breitbart News reported that another survivor claimed that the Chinese prison guards only permit the interned Muslims to cry one hour every two weeks.

“When we feel sad and cry, they say, ‘You cannot cry now—you can only cry when it is your allotted crying hour.’ At the crying hour, they shout at us, ‘Now you cry!’”, the survivor said.

The banning of the Arsenal match echoes the controversy that enveloped the NBA in October when Houston Rockets general manager Darel Morey in a since-deleted tweet, showed support for the pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, tweeting: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”

In response to the tweet, the Chinese Basketball Association decided to suspend all business dealings with the Houston Rockets, one of the most popular teams in China.

The Rockets quickly caved to the pressure from the Communist regime in Beijing, forcing Morey to apologise. The NBA then released a statement rebuking the general manager, in a desperate attempt to save their highly profitable relationship with China.

Following the NBA controversy, in an interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight, Gordon Chang warned of the political influence that China holds over American companies, saying that the CCP is “weaponising our companies against us.”

“The Houston Rockets, what they did was despicable, but you can’t expect the Houston Rockets to stand up to the Communist Party of China, so this type of thing was inevitable, and it’s occurred, of course, with Marriott, some of the other hotel chains, and of course, with Hollywood,” said Chang.

“But the real story here is not that business executives are craven,” continued Chang. “The story here is that Beijing is weaponising companies, that they are demanding obedience, and they are demanding that American companies — and we’re going to see this pretty soon — implement Communist Party politics to undermine American policy.”

In October, China also banned the popular animated American television show South Park after the show mocked Hollywood studios for bowing down to pressure from Chinese censors, in an episode entitled “Banned in China.”

Censors in Beijing responded by removing all traces of the cartoon from the Chinese internet.

The creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, released a statement following the ban, saying:

Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look just like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the Great Communist Party of China! May this autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful! We good now China?

In its 300th episode, the raunchy cartoon had leading character Randy Marsh proclaim “Fuck the Chinese Government.”

Follow Kurt on Twitter @KurtZindulka

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