Arsenal star Mesut Ozil has been removed from the Chinese version of eFootball PES 2020 following criticism of the country’s treatment of Uighur Muslims.
Ozil, who is a Muslim, called Uighurs “warriors who resist persecution” after a UN report said China has detained more than a million of the ethnic minority group in internment camps for indoctrination.
The country has denied any mistreatment and claimed that Uighur Muslims are being educated in “vocational training centres” to combat religious extremism, according to the BBC.
China responded to Ozil’s comments by saying he’d been “deceived by fake news” and invited him to visit the autonomous Xinjiang region to see for himself.
While Arsenal distanced itself from Ozil’s comments, claiming it “is always apolitical as an organisation”, China’s state broadcaster cancelled a live broadcast of the club’s clash with Manchester City on Sunday.
And now Chinese internet technology giant NetEase, which publishes Konami’s PES games in China, has removed Ozil from three series entries in the country.
“The German player Ozil posted an extreme statement about China on social media,” it said.
“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.”
Earlier this year it publicly condemned Ng ‘Blitzchung’ Wai Chung, the Hearthstone esports player banned for expressing support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.