Mesut Özil disappears from Chinese PES 2020 game after criticism of Uyghurs situation

German-Turkish footballer Mesut Özil has been removed from multiple editions of the Chinese version of eFootball PES 2020. This is linked to his recent criticism of the Uyghurs’ situation, including calling on Muslim countries to take a more stance against China.

NetEase Games, the Chinese internet company releasing multiple versions of eFootball PES 2020 in China, has confirmed Özil’s removal in a post on Weibo. In it, the company says that the footballer, who currently plays for London club Arsenal in the English Premier League, posted an “extreme statement about China” on social media on December 13. With that speech, Ozil allegedly hurt the feelings of Chinese fans and “violated the sporting atmosphere of love and peace,” NetEase said. The Chinese publisher says it cannot accept or forgive this and that therefore Mesut Özil no longer appears as a player or on cards in the game.

Özil posted a on December 13 message on Twitter and Instagram, in which he mentions a number of abuses surrounding the Chinese oppression of the Uyghurs in East Turkestan. He also expresses his frustration that the situation of the Uyghurs remains silent in Muslim countries and in the media from those countries.

The removal of Özil from the Chinese version of eFootball PES 2020 follows after earlier criticism from the Chinese government. A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said the footballer had been “led astray by fake news,” the BBC wrote. According to the Global Times In response to Ozil’s ‘false statements’, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has decided not to broadcast Arsenal’s scheduled football game against Manchester City last Sunday.

Arsenal have also distanced themselves from Ozil’s statements. Arsene Wenger, the football club’s former coach, says the footballer has the right to express his opinion, but that he is not speaking on behalf of the club. Özil did get acclaim from Mike Pompeo, the United States Secretary of State. He says the truth will prevail and the Chinese Communist Party cannot hide from the world its grave human rights violations against the Uyghurs.