Mesut Ozil has been removed from the Chinese version of the popular football simulator PES 2020. The German international made his concerns about China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims public, which was accepted with bitterness in the communist country.
Ozil spoke, in particular, against the Chinese government, which has detained more than a million Uyghurs in internment camps, according to a United Nations report. China’s response was that Ozil was misled by “fake news”.
Chinese fans ‘hurt’ by Mesut Ozil
NetEase, the company that publishes the PES franchise in China, said it will remove Ozil from the three existing games including its most popular edition, PES 2020 Mobile.
“The German player Ozil posted an extreme statement about China on social media. The speech hurt the feelings of Chinese fans and violated the sports spirit of love and peace. We do not understand, accept or forgive this!”, NetEase said in a statement on Weibo.
Mesut Ozil’s comments quickly sparked controversy. His club Arsenal was quick to distance itself from the player’s comments, which is understandable since China is one of the biggest growth markets in football.
Former Barcelona and Man City midfielder Yaya Toure, who recently played in China for QD Huanghai, shared his thoughts on the situation, stating Ozil’s should have refrained himself from comments.
“Footballers have to stay with football and politicians to politics because you cannot be involved with this kind of things because it’s going to attract a lot of problems and a lot of things. As a Muslim it is complicated and it is his choice. He’s been doing his comments but I think he was wrong to say that.”