I’ve been sat on this post for a week or so and I’ve finally decided to post it. We cannot allow our clubs to be complicit in human rights abuses anywhere on the planet. Arsenal are not the only example of this in the footballing world, however they are, to my mind, the most egregious in England in recent times.
Arsenal have recently joined in with the social media blackout in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. With the post Stating that “We stand against racism. We stand side by side with our black community. We stand with our black players of the past, present and future. We celebrate diversity. We belong together.”
Again, not that long-ago Arsenal legend Ian Wright was racially abused in his Twitter DM’s Where an Irishman was throwing racial epithets and derogatory statements his way, even wishing for his death on the basis of his race. A vile standpoint we can all agree. And it seemed as if Arsenal did, stating “Racism has no place in football or wider society. We will not tolerate racism in any form, and we’re proud of the diversity within our Arsenal family. We’ll always stand with you, @IanWright0”
However, where were all these statements of unity and anti-discrimination when Mesut Ozil publicly denounced that actions of the Chinese states in regions like East Turkmenistan and their actions in general regarding the significant population of Uighur Muslims – “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.” (Translations – also extracts are in some of the articles linked)
He also likened silence around the situation to being tacit approval of the situation that only seems to be worsening by the day. Arsenal Football Club almost instantaneously came out and declared themselves to be an apolitical institution, going to Chinese Social media Weibo and saying “Regarding the comments made by Mesut Özil on social media, Arsenal must make a clear statement,” it read. “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.”
Days before this Héctor Bellerín tweeted “Young people across the world have a chance to change what the future can be. Today’s the chance for all the British people to influence what your future and those living here holds. #FuckBoris #GoVote” – yet the club did not feel the need to come and distance themselves from his statement, despite it being more vulgar in language, and directly advocating against a British Politician.
Now, why would a club that has repeatedly stood against injustice in rightly praised cases such as the two aforementioned points about Ian Wright and the current Black Lives Matter issues we see, yet remain so silent and “apolitical” around the issue of an ethnic cleansing happening before our very eyes. Why do Arsenal issue a statement distancing themselves from one players “politics” yet ignore others in their first team?
It is morally repugnant and frankly outright dishonest that corporations will preach messages of equality to one group of people, yet will try and silently distance themselves from comments that will hurt they’re bottom line. Companies who have set similar principles to that of Arsenal do not care about movements such as Black Lives Matter, they care about their wallets, and what is best for their brand. We should not praise brands who’s very standard is blatantly and flagrantly besmirched by the idea of losing Chinese investors.
Ozil deserves more credit for his post about China’s systematic discrimination and systemic attempt to cleanse regions of Uighur populations than any corporation or individuals post about Black Lives Matter. Because he his now been eradicated from games in China, and coverage of Arsenal has been revoked by Chinese broadcasters due to his statements on the oppression of the Uyghur people. To do the same to any person due to their support for Black Lives Matter would cause outrage by every fan, yet no one really cares that Arsenal left Ozil out to dry.
I’ll leave you with Ozil’s own words from his statement: “They won’t make a noise. They have abandoned them. Don’t they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself?”
Edit: Didn’t think I’d have to specify this but Arsenal aren’t the only example of this happening in the world. No corporation will speak against China as long as it’s financially incentivised to support a state propped up by human rights abuses.
Also – u/cheesynirvana put it best in his comment: “Pretty much every comment is falling back on whataboutism here – “what about non footballing corporations”, “what about other clubs?”
OP picked Arsenal as a salient example of the issue of hypocrisy, it’s not a valuable exercise to diminish this by pointing to other offenders, you should want them to do better.
Pointing out the hypocrisy of Özil due to his friendship with Erdogan, his silence on Kurdistan, and the Armenian genocide doesn’t, while immoral, invalidate the point of arsenals wrong-doing . My personal life and club do not invalidate arsenals wrong-doing. Pointing to other instances of racism do not invalidate arsenals wrong doing. I’m criticising arsenal for not speaking out against a genocide, while telling us that BLM. Arsenal are the example I went with, if you want to criticise a different club, do some very easy research and do so.
Also it’s a genocide. Call it that.