Chinese commentators abstained from saying Mesut Ozil’s name during their coverage of Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at Bournemouth on Boxing Day.
According to the Daily Mail, Ozil was omitted when Arsenal’s starting XI was being read out and none of his involvement at the Vitality Stadium was acknowledged by reporters.
There was also no mention of Ozil when he was substituted for Joe Willock in the 75th minute.
The decision comes after Ozil uploaded a statement to his Instagram and Twitter accounts denouncing the treatment of Uighur Muslims in the country after a recent United Nations report.
The UN claimed that over one million Uighurs were being held in internment camps, while also alleging that the Chinese government had accommodated burnings of The Quran and the destruction of Mosques.
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Ozil’s social media statement
Ozil responded to the news by writing: ‘”East Turkistan, the bleeding wound of the Ummah, resisting against the persecutors trying to separate them from their religion.
“They burn their Qurans. They shut down their mosques. They ban their schools. They kill their holy men. The men are forced into camps and their families are forced to live with Chinese men.
“The women are forced to marry Chinese men. But Muslims are silent. They won’t make a noise. They have abandoned them. Don’t they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself?”
Ozil removed from PES and Baidu
Ozil’s comments were denounced by China with their foreign ministry branding him ‘blinded and misled’ as well as personally inviting him to the region.
However, the Arsenal man’s comments have already caused major reverberations across the country and he was notably scratched from Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) 2020 in China.
That, and the Ozil fans’ group on Baidu – the country’s largest communications site – announced that it was closing down.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV had initially removed Arsenal games from its schedule, blocking the Manchester City game, and the Premier League is fearing a subsequent drop in revenue.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have distanced themselves from the comments, writing: “Regarding the comments made by Mesut Ozil on social media, Arsenal must make a clear statement.
“The content published is Ozil’s personal opinion. As a football club, Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.”
It seems as though the word ‘Ozil’ won’t be uttered in the world’s most abundant language for the foreseeable future.