Mesut Özil was replaced on Sunday. He was so angry that he kicked off one of his gloves and needed it to calm Per Mertesacker, who is currently an assistant coach at Arsenal. Arsenal had lost 0-3 to Manchester City, Özil had been ineffective. Again. He was once one of the most formative playmakers in the world, but currently Mesut Özil shapes in a different way.
On Friday, Özil published a message on Twitter criticizing China's dealings with the Uighurs, a Muslim minority. It was written in Turkish, in blue and white, the colors of the Uyghur independence movement. The devout Muslim wrote that Korans were burned, mosques closed, Islamic schools banned and people locked up in camps. He complained that Muslims in other parts of the world are silent: "They have let them down," he wrote, and of the "bleeding wound of the Umma", the Muslim community. "Oh God, please help our brothers in East Turkestan."
Too much courage harms the business
Özil and politics, that sometimes went wrong. His photo with Turkish President Erdoğan before the 2018 World Cup was not a good idea. His denouncement of racism afterwards and the latest tweet show, however, that Özil is not the naive person that some may think he is. Mainly because he is stepping on the feet of his best man Erdoğan, who wants a better relationship with China.
In terms of content, Özil's tweet could also come from a human rights organization. The Society for Threatened Peoples, for example, said it supported Özil's criticism of Islamic states. Özil is also politically on the subject on the western line. Dozens of countries, including Germany and the United States, have issued a joint statement calling on China to refrain from "arbitrarily detaining Uighurs and members of other Muslim communities".
Mesut Özil has 24.5 million followers on Twitter, only two footballers have more, Ronaldo and Neymar. While the above all let self-construction prose be announced ( "Keep strong and together until the end!" ), Özil uses his reach to get involved. Many a football nerd who has never heard of the Uighurs should now know at least. Many Chinese followers are likely to gain a new perspective on the topic that hardly penetrates the country in China, which is dominated by state media.
But political criticism is not that simple in times of football capitalism. Too much courage harms the business. Arsenal were in a hurry to find that Özil's comments were his "personal opinion". So he wrote directly on the Chinese social media service Weibo. Arsenal itself is of course apolitical. Before you explain to the football club that there is no such thing, be apolitical, remember Héctor Bellerín, a teammate of Özil, who published a tweet on the day of the British general election last week, in which he hashtag FuckBoris used. The apolitical arsenal did not distance itself from this.