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What happened between Mesut Özil and the Chinese government

A tweet against the government could create struggles for Arsenal and the Premier League

 What happened between Mesut Özil and the Chinese government  A tweet against the government could create struggles for Arsenal and the Premier League

Very often we talk about Mesut Özil for his performances in the field, identifying him as one of the causes of the Arsenal results crisis, but the German footballer is also one of those who in the past expressed on important politics issues and racism, so much so that in the last weekend it seems to have set off a diplomatic case with the Chinese government. Last Friday, through its Twitter profile, Mesut Özil published two photos in which in Turkish condemned the abuses suffered in China by more than 1 million Uyghurs, a Muslim minority in the Xianjing region that since 2009 has been kept segregated in concentration camps by the communist government of the Han.
Arsenal footballer published the photos showing the blue flag of the Independent Turkestan Movement, prohibited by the Chinese authorities. The tweet is causing a diplomatic problem and damage to the Premier League, which has its best commercial partner in the Chinese television station CCTV thanks to a three-year contract worth 700 million dollars. The first provision was to cancel the airing of the big match played on Sunday between the Gunners and Manchester City, which was followed by the closure of its fan club which saw over 30 thousand subscribers and the elimination of any linked Baidu search to his name. Özil has raised a broader question about the possible involvement of the Turkish government and the recent cases of activism among sportsmen, which from the NBA to the NFL are causing economic damage to their federations.

Mesut Özil has decided to challenge the Chinese government, bypassing a censorship that is hiding all the testimonies of the Uyghurs, including those of the existence of concentration camps, initially denied by the Han regime only to admit its existence but describing them as "professional schools for to dampen extremist Islamic impulses and the fascination of violence ". The image given by Özil of the Uiguri question, however, is that of a reporter:

"They burn their Korans, close their mosques, ban their schools, kill their imams, men are locked up in camps and women are forced to live and marry Chinese men. [...] Muslim countries remain silent, say nothing, have abandoned them. They do not understand that allowing a persecution to be silent is also a persecution"

The stand against the human rights violation also involved the NBA last October, again due to a Tweet by the Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey, who expressed his support for protests from Hong Kong only to apologize to China for preserving economic relations. The intervention of the Commissioner of the NBA Adam Silver and the apology of James Harden were not enough and to avoid the boycott of the friendlies of the Rockets in Shenzen and Shanghai and the cancellation of the games of the franchise from the national TV.

 The Chinese newspaper Global Times called them "Fake News" and the Chinese Football Federation judged them "unacceptable because they hurt the feelings of Chinese supporters". There are no defenses even from the politically-neutral Premier League and from Arsenal, which has distanced itself to save economic ties with China, through apologies published in Baidu and Douyng (the Chinese version of Tik Tok).
It is not the first time that manifesting its political ideas Özil causes embarrassment in the football environment. In the past, the 10 of the Gunners had said goodbye to the National team because of "a sense of racism and lack of respect", attacking the German federation and media, also reopening the debate on multi-ethnic nationals, in which diversity is celebrated only on the basis of victories. It has happened in the past for having expressed uncomfortable political and social ideas, in particular for the friendship with the Turkish leader Recep Erdogan, who used a photo with Özil for his 2018 electoral campaign, becoming in the same year also witness of the footballer's wedding .
Considering just the friendship between the two a reading of the question concerned the probable involvement of the Turkish president in this affair, which would have exploited the friendship and the 25 million followers of the Arsenal attacker, in a similar way to what happened on last month with the players of the Turkish national team and their military salute.


The protests of a new category of sportsmen who do not hide from expressing their political ideas, shared or not, in the last period are casting shadows around the spread of sporting and moral values, neglected in the name of business. In the Premier League recently a similar incident occurred with Hector Bellerin, who with a "Fuck Boris" sided with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the eve of the last elections. It seems that for the moment the question is being limited to judging Mesut Özil as the impatient player of a disappointing Arsenal, the capricious one who kicks the gloves after being replaced after 58 minutes in the match against City, and not as a citizen, born of immigrant parents, who have developed their own truth - shared or not - on issues such as freedom and religion, which for the moment do not seem to have to center with football.