Chinese soccer fans condemn Arsenal player's tweet on Xinjiang


Chinese netizens and soccer fans were angered and disappointed by Mesut zil, a Turkish-German player with Premier League club Arsenal, who tweeted on Friday referring to Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as "East Turkistan."

According to a white paper released by the State Council Information Office in July, titled "Historical Matters Concerning Xinjiang," never in Chinese history has Xinjiang been referred to as "East Turkistan," and there has never been any state known as "East Turkistan."

Many Chinese netizens and soccer fans objected to zil's tweet, saying that he should not interfere in China's domestic affairs by showing his support for separatists in Xinjiang.

Arsenal released a statement around 2am Saturday on Sina Weibo, saying that what zil said is his personal view and as a soccer club, Arsenal sticks to its principle of not interfering in politics. Some fans called on a boycott of the club's teams. 

The statement, which was released only in a Chinese version on Chinese social media, did not appease the anger of Chinese soccer fans who want the club to release the statement on Twitter in English and apologize to Chinese fans.

A trend topic #zil has been viewed for more than 300 million times and many netizens swarmed to a Sina Weibo account identified as zil.

"zil Tieba," a Chinese fan community of zil with more than 100,000 members, announced closed on its Sina Weibo account short after the soccer player's post. "In front of national interests, any personal hobby does not worth a mention," said the community's statement.

In July 2018, zil, who's Turkish, quit the German national team amid fallout from a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Germany's World Cup exit.

"Freedom of speech has boundaries and it should be used on the basis of respecting other countries' sovereignty, not interfering in their domestic affairs. It should be used to oppose violence and safeguard security and order," according to a statement released Friday by dongqiudi.com, one of the most popular soccer sites in China.

"zil's post has hurt the Chinese people's feelings and his deeds will not be accepted by us. As a soccer media outlet and Chinese, we firmly protest his deeds," read the statement.

Source: https://www.globaltimes.cn

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