Like the rest of the corporate world England’s premier soccer teams feed from the trough of China’s regime. Chinese money and with it a corrosive influence is increasingly funding English clubs, as witnessed by pitch-side commercials, shirt branding and Chinese language fan sites. Teams are also investing inside China, seeking to maximize their commercial footprint. The potential profits ensure an active collusion from soccer’s elite who close their eyes to China‘s dark record of human rights violations, censorship and forced labor-camps.
So desperate are clubs to nurture and maintain positive relations with China, that like many governments, they signal to the Chinese regime that they will not permit concerns on human rights to interfere with their lucrative corporate objectives. When presented with criticism on this they employ the classic excuse of declaring themselves as being non-political. Which is a joke since their collaborative silence in knowledge of persecution and oppression is a conscious decision very much defined by politics!
Against this background of craven appeasement, yesterday, we noted the comments of the Arsenal player, Mesut Özil who posted on Instagram
“East Turkistan, the bleeding wound of the Ummah, resisting against the persecutors trying to separate them from their religion. They burn their Qurans. They shut down their mosques. They ban their schools. They kill their holy men. The men are forced into camps and their families are forced to live with Chinese men. The women are forced to marry Chinese men. But Muslims are silent. They won’t make a noise. They have abandoned them. Don’t they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself?”.
We applaud and respect the integrity and conviction of this player to add his voice and status to give greater exposure to the cultural genocide waged against the Uyghur people. He is right to draw attention to the apathy of fellow Muslims, yet such callous indifference and silence is not restricted to the followers of Islam. Western governments and Non-Governmental Organizations such as United Nations Women and UNCSW are silent on the harrowing abuses being forced upon Uyghurs.
What of his club Arsenal? What’s their response? Within hours of his online comments they posted a statement on a number of prominent Chinese social-media platforms, including Weibo in which they stated:
“Regarding the comments made by Mesut Özil on social media, Arsenal must make a clear statement…The content published is Özil’s personal opinion. As a football club, Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.”.
That grovelling appeasement may not be sufficient to satisfy the extreme nationalism of Chinese opinion, engineered by years of state imposed indoctrination. As in other recent cases were corporations have been required to issue apologies it may well be that Arsenal will be issuing further statements, would they if pushed release Mesut Özil? You betcha!
In collaborating with China’s regime; ignoring the atrocities and misery inflicted upon Uyghurs, Tibetans, Mongolians, Manchurians and the Han Chinese people, premier league clubs such as Arsenal are very much engaged in politics. Their collective silence is nothing less than a willing complicity!