Chinese versions of eFootball PES (Pro Evolution Soccer) 2020 removed Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil from its game after posting comments about the country’s alleged internment of Uighur Muslims.
According to the BBC, publisher NetEase stated Özil’s social media posts “Violated the sports spirit of love and peace,” while adding it’s unacceptable and unforgivable.
NetEase’s action comes almost a week after the player posted a message on social media.
In a translation from The Guardian, the post wrote “[In China] Qurans are burned, mosques were closed down, Islamic theological schools, madrasas were banned, religious scholars were killed one by one. Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet.”
Özil’s statements are a part of international discussions involving more than a million Uighur reportedly placed in numerous “re-education” detention camps at the western Xinjiang region.
Critics have condemned the ongoing issue, including U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who supported Özil’s comments in his own tweet.
Özil was also removed from the Chinese mobile version of PES 2020 as part of NetEase’s decision.
No other reports confirmed the Özil’s removal across the North American and European releases of PES 2020.
Discussions about China’s policies have also circulated around gamers, including professional Hearthstone player Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung who was suspended from competition by Blizzard following comments about the Hong Kong protests earlier in October.