China pulls English Premier League game after Arsenal player slams Uighur crackdown
The soccer club distanced itself from Mesut Ozil's comments
China's state broadcaster pulled Sunday's English Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City because of Arsenal's Mesut Ozil, who called out the Chinese government for its treatment of Uighur Muslims.
"Qurans are burned, mosques were closed down, Islamic theological schools, madrasas were banned, religious scholars were killed one by one. Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet," Ozil wrote on Twitter on Friday, according to a translation by NBC News.
Ozil is a Muslim of Turkish descent.
Arsenal responded by distancing itself from Ozil's remarks with a post on China's Weibo platform, according to Sky Sports.
"The content he expressed is entirely Ozil's personal opinion," the club wrote. "As a football club, Arsenal always adheres to the principle of not being involved in politics."
The match started at 4:30 p.m. UK time on Sunday, which was around midnight on Monday in Beijing.
Chinese Communist Party-controlled Global Times referred to Ozil's post as "recent false comments" and publicized the Chinese Football Association's response.
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"Ozil's comments not only hurt his Chinese fans but also hurt the feelings of the Chinese people," the Chinese Football Association said in a statement.
Ozil's controversy is reminiscent of the NBA's attempts at damage control with its Chinese partners after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey voiced support for the Hong Kong protesters. China is an important market to the NBA, which eventually said it stands for the free speech of employees in October.