- Title: Ozil must accept consequences of China criticism - Wenger
- Date: 18th December 2019
- Summary: DOHA, QATAR (DECEMBER 18, 2019) (REUTERS) SOUNDBITE (English) FIFA'S GLOBAL HEAD OF FOOTBALL DEVELOPMENT ARSENE WENGER, SAYING: "First of all Mesut Ozil has freedom of speech like everybody else and he uses his notoriety to express his opinions, what is not necessarily shared by everybody but he has the right to do that. You are a human being you have an opinion and after when you play football, you play football you do your job first and you have to respect that. Apart from that, it is a situation honestly I don't know well, but he has the right to express his opinion."
- Embargoed: 1st January 2020 12:51
- Keywords: Arsene Wenger Mesut Ozil
- Location: DOHA, QATAR / LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- City: DOHA, QATAR / LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Soccer,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA002BAI6Y4F
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: AUDIO AND QUALITY AS INCOMING
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said on Wednesday Mesut Ozil must "accept the consequences" of criticizing China's treatment of its Uighur Muslims, but he defended the star midfielder's right to express an opinion.
Ozil, a German Muslim of Turkish origin signed by Wenger in 2013, posted messages on Twitter and Instagram last week calling minority Uighurs "warriors who resist persecution".
China's foreign ministry said Ozil had been deceived by fake news as the country's Twitter-like Weibo platform erupted with angry messages, some calling for the London club to sack their highest-paid player.
Wenger told reporters in Doha he did not know if there would be a long-term impact for Ozil.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came out in support of Ozil on Tuesday, saying Beijing could not hide rights violations.
China has repeatedly denied any mistreatment of Uighurs. But the United Nations and rights groups estimate up to two million mostly ethnic Uighur Muslims have been detained as part of what Beijing calls an anti-terrorism campaign.
Arsenal was quick to distance itself from their midfielder's comments, posting a statement on Weibo saying it was his personal opinion.
Wenger said he did not want to get involved in the debate about the right balance between players' opinions and the commercial relationships big clubs, such as Arsenal, have internationally.
Meanwhile Wenger said he was saddened by the current poor former of Arsenal, and said potential new manager Mikel Arteta had a "great future" but might find the top job hard beacuse of his lack of experience.
(Simon Evans and Iain Axon)
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