It has been a testing few months for Arsenal and German footballer Mesut Özil. After being attacked at knifepoint alongside fellow Arsenal player Sead Kolašinac in London this year, his club form has been below standard and more recently his comments regarding the treatment of ethnic muslims in China’s western provinces has come under the spotlight.
This has resulted in the player being pulled from PES 2020 Mobile in China, along with two other games published by NetEase in the region. NetEase did not stop there, adding in a Weibo blog post that it does not “understand, accept, or forgive,” recent comments he made.
Those comments referred to the way in which Uighur muslims have been reportedly treated in the Xinjiang province of China.
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) December 13, 2019
This is not the first time that someone has been affected for comments made about Uighurs, with TikTok having to apologise for banning a user after she made similar comments.
As such this latest development does little to counter the narrative that companies operating within China need to bow to any sort of pressure placed on them by the government.
The government have responded to the claims made by Mesut Özil on social media, which include mosques being shut down, Korans being burned and muslims being detained, calling it “fake news” and that he had been “deceived”.
That said the UN sent a delegation to investigate claims in August last year, and there was overwhelming evidence that muslims were indeed being placed in detention camps.
Consequently is appears as if Özil’s criticisms are well founded.
As for what happens to the player’s status in the three aforementioned games, little is known, with NetEase showing no desire to change its decision. The creator of the game, Konami, has also remained silent of the issue, which likely means Özil’s absence will continue.[Image – Mesut Özil Twitter]