By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
31-year old Arsenal midfielder, Mesut Ozil, has offended the Chinese with a ‘tweet’ in which he criticised them about their treatment of Uighur Muslims.
Ozil, who is himself a Muslim, described them as “warriors who resist persecution” and human rights groups claim that they have been detained without trial in high security prison camps in the autonomous Xinjiang Region of Western China.
The Chinese Government claims that the Uighur Muslims are being re-educated in “vocational training centres” in order “to combat violent religious extremism.”
A Regional Government spokesman, Shohrat Zakir, has stated that they have now been released, “having completed their courses and graduated” and that “with the help of the Chinese Government have realised stable employment and improved their quality of life.”
He added that, in future, training would be based on “independent will” and that people would be free “to come and go.”
Arsenal have distanced themselves from Ozil’s social media intervention, stating that they do not engage in politics.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has claimed that Ozil was acting on “fake news” and invited him to go the Xinjiang Region and see the situation for himself.
In retaliation for Ozil’s tweet in support of the Uighur Muslims, Chinese State Television pulled the live transmission of last Sunday’s English Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City from its schedules.
The TV rights to the Premier League in China for the period 2019 – 2022 are worth £535 million to the League!
Recently, the NBA has also fallen foul of the Chinese on championing human rights.
On 5 October 2019, Daryl Morey, General Manager of the ‘Houston Rockets’, ‘tweeted’ in support of the protesters in Hong Kong and then withdrew the ‘tweet’. This resulted in financial loss for the NBA in general and the ‘Houston Rockets’ in particular. See the post of the author of the present post of 14 October 2019 on the GSLTR website.
The Chinese economy is reputed to be worth some US$3 trillion and is continuing to grow. It the second largest economy in the world in GDP terms and the number one world economy in purchasing power parity.
Thus, financially speaking, there is very much riding on these sporting spats and the moral of them is do not mess with the Chinese, as far as human rights issues are concerned, however strongly you feel about them, ethically speaking, if you wish to stay in the big money league!
Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’