Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil has been removed from China’s version of the Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) 2020 video game following his criticism of China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims, BBC reported.
Özil, who is a Muslim with Turkish roots, called Uighurs “warriors who resist persecution.”
He also criticized both China and the silence of Muslims in response.
NetEase, which publishes the PES franchise in China, said the former Germany player had been removed from three existing titles in the country.
“The German player Özil posted an extreme statement about China on social media,” it said in a statement.
“The speech hurt the feelings of Chinese fans and violated the sports spirit of love and peace. We do not understand, accept or forgive this.”
Arsenal said the club is “apolitical,” and China’s foreign ministry claimed 31-year-old Özil was “deceived by fake news.”
Rights groups say about a million people — mostly from the Muslim Uighur community — are thought to have been detained without trial in high-security prison camps.
China has consistently denied mistreating Uighur Muslims in the country and says they are being educated in “vocational training centers” to combat violent religious extremism.