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.

Supporters of China's Muslim Uighur minority hold placards of Arsenal's Turkish origin German midfielder Mesut Ozil during a demonstration at Beyazid square in Istanbul on December 14, 2019. - Arsenal's Mesut Ozil, a German footballer of Turkish origin, expressed on December 14, 2019 support for Uighurs in Xinjiang and criticised Muslim countries for their failure to speak up for them. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP) (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of China’s Muslim Uighur minority hold placards of Arsenal’s Turkish origin German midfielder Mesut Ozil during a demonstration at Beyazid square in Istanbul on December 14, 2019. – Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, a German footballer of Turkish origin, expressed on December 14, 2019 support for Uighurs in Xinjiang and criticised Muslim countries for their failure to speak up for them. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP) (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

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.

A supporter of China's Muslim Uighur minority holds a placard of Arsenal's Turkish origin German midfielder Mesut Ozil reading "Thanks for being our voice" past flags of East Turkestan during a demonstration at Beyazid square in Istanbul on December 14, 2019. - Arsenal's Mesut Ozil, a German footballer of Turkish origin, expressed on December 14, 2019 support for Uighurs in Xinjiang and criticised Muslim countries for their failure to speak up for them. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP) (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)
A supporter of China’s Muslim Uighur minority holds a placard of Arsenal’s Turkish origin German midfielder Mesut Ozil reading “Thanks for being our voice” past flags of East Turkestan during a demonstration at Beyazid square in Istanbul on December 14, 2019. – Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, a German footballer of Turkish origin, expressed on December 14, 2019 support for Uighurs in Xinjiang and criticised Muslim countries for their failure to speak up for them. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP) (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

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.”

COMMERCE CITY, CO - JULY 15: Mesut Oezil #10 of Arsenal waves to fans during the second half against the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on July 15, 2019 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
COMMERCE CITY, CO – JULY 15: Mesut Oezil #10 of Arsenal waves to fans during the second half against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on July 15, 2019 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

“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.

Arsenal shame themselves with Mesut Ozil statement

“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.”

COMMERCE CITY, CO - JULY 15: Mesut Oezil #10 of Arsenal jokes with teammates while warming up against the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on July 15, 2019 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
COMMERCE CITY, CO – JULY 15: Mesut Oezil #10 of Arsenal jokes with teammates while warming up against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on July 15, 2019 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

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.

What is the real price of supporting Arsenal these days?

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.