Mesut Ozil has been deleted from the computer game PES 2020 Mobile in China amid the row over his public condemnation of the country’s treatment of Uighur Muslims.
Ozil spoke out against the Chinese government, which has detained more than a million Uighurs in internment camps, according to a UN report. China responded by saying Ozil had been taken in by “fake news”.
State television scrapped a live broadcast of Arsenal’s game with Manchester City and now NetEase, which publishes the PES franchise in China, has confirmed that it will remove Ozil from its three existing games including its most popular edition, PES 2020 Mobile.
Ozil’s comments have ignited much debate, with Arsenal quick to distance themselves from the midfielder’s criticisms of a country which is one of the biggest growth markets in football.
Having recently played in China, the former Barcelona and Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure said Ozil should not have spoken out to denounce human rights in the country.
Secret documents reported by the AP last month showed the Chinese government used mass surveillance and an integrated computing system to target pious Muslims and Uighurs who travelled abroad for detention in internment camps. China has been accused of detaining more than 1 million Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang and subjecting them to torture, beatings and food deprivation. The documents showed they were forced to learn Mandarin and Communist ideology.