Pro Evolution Soccer will remove Mesut Ozil from their game in China as the authoritarian regime continues to throw a hissy fit over the German’s tweet that dared called attention to their treatment of Uighurs within their borders.
China has been condemned by governments and human rights organisations around the globe because of the treatment Mesut Ozil detailed in his tweet.
China, however, are determined to convince the rest of the world that Ozil is the villain here, not them.
Across the country, some Chinese people have been burning Mesut Ozil shirts while officials and citizens alike have been crying about ‘hurt feelings,’ eagerly encouraged by their state-run media.
After cancelling Arsenal’s match against Manchester City to show a re-run of a Tottenham game, despite Arsenal showing their deference by issuing a shameful statement distancing themselves from Ozil’s tweet, they have now pushed Pro Evolution Soccer to remove him from their game in their region.
NetEase, who publish the PES franchise in China, issued an even more cowardly and shameful statement than Arsenal about Ozil’s removal from the 2020 edition.
“The German player Ozil posted an extreme statement about China on social media,” they said in a statement.
“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.”
“While Arsenal try to keep politics at arms-length, Mesut Ozil has continued to court controversy by speaking out against the Chinese government’s oppression of the Uighur people,” said Damien Mason, Online Censorship Expert at ProPrivacy.
“China putting pressure on game developer Konami to remove Ozil’s likeness from their Pro Evolution Soccer game will come as no surprise to those clued into how China typically responds to criticism.
“However, the effort that China has gone to in order to remove Ozil’s identity from the public eye shows that the authoritarian state is worried about the midfielder’s reach. Ozil has over 24 million followers on Twitter alone. Even though Twitter is banned in China, the Chinese Government will be aware that this information will have found its way to Chinese citizens, who follow will find a way to keep up to date on their favourite premier league footballers.
“It’s a shame to see Arsenal placate China’s aggressive censorship with watered-down commentary on the matter, albeit understandable considering its sizeable fan base in the country.
“It also sets a worrying precedent for the video game industry, given that publishers and developers are largely influenced by Chinese companies, significant financial stake in them.”
Like with most authoritarians, what they accuse others of is often what they are up themselves.
In this instance, we can clearly see the ‘fake news’ accusations aimed at Ozil are merely an attempt to distract from their own fake news – that this atrocity is not taking place as you read these words.
While the world watches on and does nothing, too desperate for a share of China’s power and money to take a stand, I guess in a way, China are right. For most of us, it isn’t taking place.
What does it matter when it’s half a world away? We don’t live in China, it doesn’t impact us.
Yet here we are, half a world away watching it impact not only one footballer in London, but a whole club.
There is no ”other side of the world’ anymore.