Mesut Ozil has been backed by Donald Trump’s right-hand man in his denouncement of China’s persecution of Muslims but has been told to stick to football by Yaya Toure.
Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, made a surprise intervention in the diplomatic storm that led to Arsenal’s match against Manchester City on Sunday being pulled from Chinese television.
“China’s Communist Party propaganda outlets can censor Mesut Özil and Arsenal’s game all season long, but the truth will prevail,” Pompeo posted on Twitter. “The CCP can’t hide its gross human rights violations perpetrated against Uighurs and other religious faiths from the world.”
Pompeo spoke out after former City star Toure refused to back his condemnation of documented human rights abuses against both midfielders’ fellow Muslims.
Image: Yaya Toure
Toure, who has just finished a brief stint playing in China, said: “Footballers have to stay with football and politicians to politics because you cannot be involved with this kind of things because it’s going to attract a lot of problems and a lot of things.
“As a Muslim, it is complicated and it is his choice. He’s been doing his comments but I think he was wrong to say that.”
Toure, a vocal campaigner against racism in football, was speaking at the same time Premier League clubs were being urged to assure their Muslim players that they were free to join Ozil in highlighting the “ethnic cleansing” of Uighurs in the north-western region of Xinjiang.