Chinese state TV pulls match after football star Mesut Özil criticizes Muslim detention camps

On 15 December 2019, China’s state broadcaster CCTV removed an Arsenal-Manchester City football match from its schedule after Arsenal player Mesut Özil tweeted in support of Uyghur Muslims in China. Two days before the match, Özil criticized the Chinese government and the silence of the global Muslim community in the face of ongoing human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Chinese state media described Özil’s action as “false” and expressed the “disappointment” of Chinese fans and football authorities. A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson further denounced Ozil, saying he was “deceived by false news reports.” Arsenal rapidly distanced itself from the player, insisting that the tweet constituted Özil’s personal views. For the English Premier League, China had become a major overseas market, with the signature of a three-year TV rights deal worth $700 million in 2019.

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Date: 15 December, 2019
Country: United Kingdom