Probably out of anger at an Instagram post from Mesut Özil, China apparently stopped broadcasting Özil’s Arsenal Premier League game against Manchester City on Sunday evening.
This was announced by China's English-language daily "Global Times". Instead, according to the Reuters news agency, CCTV will show a record of the game Tottenham Hotspur against Wolverhampton Wanderes.
China's State-run CCTV removed @ Arsenal's Sunday match against @ManCity from its broadcast schedule, after Arsenal star @ MesutOzil1088's false comments on Xinjiang disappointed Chinese fans and football governing authorities. Online broadcaster PPTV may also stop airing the game. pic.twitter.com/Ly1WQtcqGg- Global Times (@globaltimesnews) December 15, 2019
Özil had denounced the persecution of the Muslim Uighurs on social media. In China, however, discussions have flared up above all about the term "East Turkestan" used prominently by Özil. (Read more about the background here: China, the Uyghurs and East Turkestan - why Özil's statement is so explosive)
Arsenal FC, which has numerous economic connections to China, had hoped to prevent worse by promptly distancing Özil's statements on different Chinese platforms. Özil's enormous popularity in the country could also be helpful here. But now the conflict is obviously coming to a head.
Beijing had reacted similarly a few weeks ago. Daryl Morey, managing director of the NBA team Houston Rockets, had expressed his solidarity with the demonstrators in Hong Kong in a tweet - and thus taught the entire North American basketball league the anger of its most important foreign market. Subsequently, it was not only Chinese major sponsors of the Rockets who jumped off. CCTV also stopped broadcasting two NBA preparatory games.
The Chinese market is also extremely important for the Premier League. The Chinese streaming provider PP Sports has a three-year contract for $ 700 million, which is the league's largest international contract.