Arsenal Player “Erased” After 1 Simple Tweet


Sachin Hansen, Writer

Everything started with a tweet, Mezut Ozil knew what he was doing last December, but did not expect the following consequences. December of last year, Mezut let out a tweet, denouncing the treatment by China of the Uigars, a Muslim minority in China, and the silence of the world. In 2014, after winning the world cup with Germany, he joined Arsenal, a soccer team in England, and was one of the league’s top players for many years. Ozil was making more money than most other players on his team combined, but after the tweet, it all went sideways. 


Friends and advisers had warned Ozil, the Arsenal midfielder, that there would be consequences. He would have to write off China as a market. His six million followers on Weibo, the country’s largest social network, would disappear. His fan club there with as many as 50,000 signed-up members would go, too. He would never play in China again. 


After the tweet was released, things began to go downhill for Ozil. The next game, a Chinese sports show refused to air the match, another refused to say his name. The Chinese government disabled his Weibo account and looking up his name brought error messages in China. Slowly Mezut Ozil was being erased. China was the Premier league’s biggest broadcaster, and so the biggest broadcaster for Arsenal. Arsenal began to try and make up with China, sending merchandise of all other players but him. Early 2020, Arsenal let out a tweet, saying “To our Nigerian fans, we see you, we hear you, we feel you…” This of course was almost the same thing as what Ozil had done, but the club thought differently. 


In the middle of COVID, many teams began to lose money, as they could not play games, pay cuts began to arise. Ozil had been a somewhat prominent player in early 2020, but then soon became a bench warmer as time went on. In June, 12.5% wage cuts were made to players, but Ozil stood firm. Again, he knew the risk: that he might be excluded by the club, that it might effectively end his career at Arsenal by refusing, but he didn’t care. Ozil has not played since. Not a game since early June. Earlier this month, it emerged that Arsenal had parted company with Jerry Quy, a lifelong fan who has spent the last 27 years dressing up as an oversize green dinosaur, Gunnasourus the mascot of Arsenal, and standing on the sideline during games.


Ozil backed Him up and fought the club, for the mascot to stay. Ozil then decided he would pay Quy’s, salary until the club had the money to do so. The club was not happy. Ozil claims all of these punishments came after he sent out the Tweet, and many agree. The club however denies it, saying they were going to stop him playing as much anyway. Özil, 32, insists it is his “love” for Arsenal that keeps him there. He had opportunities to leave over the course of this summer, according to a soccer executive with knowledge of the offers, but none that appealed. The size of his salary and perhaps his reputation as troublesome severely limits his options. He believes it started with the tweet. Arsenal disputes that. Wherever it began, this is where it has led: 10 months later, Mesut Özil has, effectively, been erased.