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By Dr Billy “the Dog” McGraw, senior psychologist at the University College Hospital of the North Circular Road.
Tony has reported both on the Untold Goonernews videos and on a post here about our unhappiness with Arsenal over the club’s kowtowing and bowing down to Chinese pressure after Özil’’s comments about the treatment of Uiqhur Muslims in China.
Arsenal, on hearing of China’s disquiet about Özil’s comments, issued a conciliatory statement saying these were just Özil’s views and not the views of the club. This contrasted strongly with the way American teams have in general responded to such criticism. Their view is that if you take an American team, you have to be aware that they do not leave their values behind in the departure lounge.
Now we hear that FC Cologne are pulling out of a deal that was about to come into effect to run a football academy in China. A representative of the club has said that the club should not support “such a totalitarian and brutal dictatorship”.
Cologne’s president, Werner Wolf, told the paper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger that they had decided not proceed with the project “in the current sporting situation”.
Stefan Müller-Römer, who was a member of the board said to the newspaper, “I understand that Germany can’t completely get by without China and that there is an exchange between the two countries, but we don’t need China in sport and I stand by that.
“In China human rights are being massively disregarded. A complete surveillance state is being built, one worse than even George Orwell could have imagined. I have followed developments in China for more than 20 years and I have been there several times. I know what I am talking about.
“That is why I am of the opinion that 1 FC Cologne should not be active there. Making money at any cost is not an option for me. Apart from the fact that it is questionable whether it is possible to make money there, there are more important things than money. And as a non-profit organisation, that is socially active, we cannot support such a brutal and totalitarian dictatorship.”
Arsenal however has gone the other way. Arsenal has developed a number of interests in China, particularly including a chain of restaurants, and justifies this on the basis that the club is apolitical.
And that is a bit of a problem, because I’d rather like the club I support to be in favour of democracy over dictatorship and the rule of law over arbitrary decisions by dictators. I want the club to be political.
“Regarding the comments made by Mesut Özil on social media, Arsenal must make a clear statement,” it pontificated. “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.”
But by its very existence that is not true. Arsenal is political because it exists in a country that is ruled by politicians. It has no choice but to be political.
I am reminded of the line taken by my secondary school’s hierarchy when they dished out a punishment to me for wearing a CND badge on my uniform. “We’ll have no politics in this school,” I was told and I’m rather pleased to recall that even by the age of 17 I was able to realise what a lie that was. The school, by its very existence as a grammar school was a political statement built by a political government. It is politics that creates our world, and we cannot escape it.
Özil’s Instagram message stated, “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.
“But Muslims are silent. They won’t make a noise. They have abandoned them. Don’t they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself?”
Arsenal meanwhile has been described by Sean Ingle in the Guardian as “craven” as in the headline “Craven Arsenal abandon Mesut Özil over his stance on China’s Uighur persecution.” I’d agree with that.
But let us not forget that we have previously had the case of the MOTV wild animal hunting channel which the Kroenkes wanted to launch in Britain and which led to protests and which was eventually abandoned because of mass protests. So maybe we do have a voice.
It is not always easy to make life difficult for the obscenely rich, but we can at least try.
And there could be a possible bonus. If we made life commercially difficult for Arsenal often enough, maybe they’d sell the club to someone a bit nicer.
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