Chinese state television pulled the scheduled live broadcast of a football (soccer) game following one of the players’ comments online criticizing the government’s treatment of its Muslim Uighur minority.
China’s CCTV was scheduled to broadcast the football game between Arsenal and Manchester United, but instead decided to show a taped game between Tottenham Hotspur and the Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Arsenal footballer Mesut Ozil posted on Twitter Friday comments condemning China’s crackdown on Muslim minorities in the Western region, while also criticizing other Muslim countries for not speaking up against abuses.
“Korans are being burnt… Mosques are being shut down… Muslim schools are being banned… Religious scholars are being killed one by one… Brothers are forcefully being sent to camps,” Ozil wrote in Turkish on his Twitter account Friday.
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) December 13, 2019
The U.S., the United Nations and various human rights groups have accused China of detaining an estimated one million ethnic Muslims in so-called “re-education camps” in the remote Western province of Xinjiang in an attempt to force them to renounce their religion and heritage.
Chia’s state-run Global Times said on its Twitter account Sunday that CCTV made the decision to pull the game after Ozil’s comments had “disappointed fans and football governing authorities”.
Arsenal posted on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, that the the content Ozil shared was “entirely Ozil’s personal opinion”. The team has not posted a response on Twitter or released and official statement.