London, UK – Britain has one of the worlds most renowned and watched football competitions in the form of the Premier League. With billions of pounds invested in the sport by multiple backers from multiple nations, it is a dominant force to be reckoned with on the pitch, however, can football influence politics?
Arsenal footballer, Mesut Ozil, has caused uproar in China after Tweeting comments regarding the Uighur Muslims in China. Ozil, himself a Muslim, has broken ranks with the protocol of mixing opinion with sport, and as such, China has removed the scheduled game between Arsenal and Manchester City today from their airtime.
Arsenal were quick to distance themselves from the controversial comments made by Ozil, stating that the club will always remain an apolitical organisation, the Global Times described Ozil’s comments as false, and the Chinese, who have a large Arsenal fan base, both in China and abroad, have been left disappointed by the Germany star’s unprecedented comments.
Sports personalities have caused further controversy in the past, notably in the US where the Houston Rockets manager, Darly Morey, caused tensions by Tweeting his support for the Hong Kong protesters. This again sparked a backlash from the Chinese, who again questioned why a sporting icon should involve himself in politics.
The underlying notion behind this involvement may be deeper than first meets the eye. The UK are bitterly sore at losing Hong Kong to the Chinese, and further more, the UK’s reliance on China, is far greater than China’s reliance on the UK.
Hence, from every possible angle, from sport to sympathy with protestors, from human rights to criticism of the Chinese military, the UK is doing is upmost to smear China, and albeit from a football star playing for Arsenal, the UK has once again come under the spotlight as it unofficially agitates the waves of social media from within.