Chinese soccer fans condemn Arsenal player Mesut Özil's tweet on Xinjiang

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/12/14 1:31:07

Mesut Özil of Arsenal reacts after being fouled during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadiumin London, Britain on Dec. 8, 2013. The match ended with a 1-1 draw. (Xinhua/Wang Lili)

Chinese netizens and soccer fans were angered and disappointed by Mesut Özil, a Turkish-German player with Premier League club Arsenal, who tweeted on Friday referring to Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as "East Turkistan."

According to a white paper released by the State Council Information Office in July, titled "Historical Matters Concerning Xinjiang," never in Chinese history has Xinjiang been referred to as "East Turkistan," and there has never been any state known as "East Turkistan."

The advocacy of the so-called stated "East Turkistan" has become a political tool and program for separatists and anti-China forces attempting to split China.

Many Chinese netizens and soccer fans objected to Özil's tweet, saying that he should not interfere in China's domestic affairs by showing his support for separatists in Xinjiang.

Arsenal released a statement around 2am Saturday on Sina Weibo, saying that what Özil said is his personal view and as a soccer club, Arsenal sticks to its principle of not interfering in politics. Some fans called on a boycott of the club's teams.

The statement, which was released only in a Chinese version on Chinese social media, did not appease the anger of Chinese soccer fans who want the club to release the statement on Twitter in English and apologize to Chinese fans.
Sina Sports released a post on Sina Weibo, saying that Özil's remarks have upset his fans in China. Just because he's a well-known sportsman, it doesn't give him the right to comment on issues relating to the national interests and he needs to explain himself.

A trend topic #Özil has been viewed for more than 300 million times and many netizens swarmed to a Sina Weibo account identified as Özil.

"Özil Tieba," a Chinese fan community of Özil with more than 100,000 members, announced closed on its Sina Weibo account short after the soccer player's post. "In front of national interests, any personal hobby does not worth a mention," said the community's statement.

In July 2018, Özil, who's Turkish, quit the German national team amid fallout from a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Germany's World Cup exit.

"Freedom of speech has boundaries and it should be used on the basis of respecting other countries' sovereignty, not interfering in their domestic affairs. It should be used to oppose violence and safeguard security and order," according to a statement released Friday by, one of the most popular soccer sites in China.

"Özil's post has hurt the Chinese people's feelings and his deeds will not be accepted by us. As a soccer media outlet and Chinese, we firmly protest his deeds," read the statement.

Posted in: SOCIETY

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