Tag Archives: Mesut Özil

Football should follow Mesut Ozil’s lead and stop supporting sportswashing

Regardless of whether you like Mesut Ozil or not, whether you think he is a waste of space on the pitch and we should get rid, we should all be standing with him over his comments about China.

On Friday, Ozil posted a message on his criticises China’s treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang.

The treatment the Uighur Muslim minority in western China has been labelled as the ‘atrocity of the century’ with reports that up to 3 million people are being held in “modern day” concentration camps.

Leading Uighur activist Rushan Abbas described the situation back in 2018.

“[It is] not just the 3 million people in the concentration camps facing mental and physical torture, forced intense indoctrinations, forced medications, food and sleep deprivation, [but] even the people at large … living outside, are facing a complete surveillance police state.”

The United Nations and human rights groups estimate that between one million and two million people, mostly ethnic Uighur Muslims, have been detained in harsh conditions in Xinjiang as part of what Beijing calls an anti-terrorism campaign.

The first Uighur camp was built in 2014, and much of the world has turned a blind eye to what is happening. Most of the world are actually unaware of what is happening, with countries across the globe continuing to do business with China in the same way they were doing business with Germany in the late 1930s, despite the first Nazi concentration camp being built in 1933.

It has taken Ozil’s Instagram post to bring the plight of the Turkic ethnic group into the world domain.

Posting the words against the backdrop of the flag of the short-lived East Turkestan republic, an area that is now Chinese-controlled Xinjiang, he called Uighurs “warriors who resist persecution” and criticised both China’s crackdown and the silence of Muslims in response. “(In China) Qurans are burned, mosques were closed down, Islamic theological schools, madrasas were banned, religious scholars were killed one by one. Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet,”

In response to Ozil’s comments, China’s state broadcaster CCTV pulled the broadcast of Arsenal’s Premier League game against Manchester City.

Ozil has seen his China-based “M10” fan club shut down, his social media accounts blocked and almost all trace of his name removed from Chinese search engine results.

Several Chinese football fan sites have said they will stop posting news related to Ozil, according to the Shanghai-based publication The Paper. A Chinese football simulation game said it would no longer produce Özil player roles or cards.

Fans in China have labelled Ozil a “dirty ant” and posted videos of them burning his shirts.

In a comment that has since been deleted, the editor of the Global Times, Hu Xijin, accused the footballer of essentially calling for global jihad against China. Asking Özil to provide examples of his allegations, Hu wrote: “This man is full of nonsense. Does he just want to encourage global jihad, using Xinjiang as an excuse?”

Ozil has been brave standing up to what he clearly feels are human rights breaches that are currently being ignored by the global community.

China’s record on human rights is one of the worst in the world. Like many other countries with poor records, they have been attempting to use sport to improve its reputation in something that is known as sportswashing.

From the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing through to Qatar 2022, sportswashing is becoming more common as authorities and clubs put aside their morals and values to sell their sport to the highest bidder.

Last weekend saw the world title heavyweight clash between anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz take place in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s relatively sudden interest in sports can be construed as a soft power tactic to help distract from the kingdom’s ongoing human rights abuses and the Yemen crisis.

The kingdom has hosted the Race of Champions (ROC) motorsport event, secured a long-term deal with the WWE that includes multiple shows a year, hosted boxing events headlined by stars like Amir Khan, hosted a PGA European Tour golf event.

Azerbaijani is another nation using sport as a distraction from what is actually happening in their country.

Despite human rights infringements, a lack of press freedom, a clear threat of terrorism and Azerbaijan being labelled as “not free”; the likes of UEFA, the IAAF and the FIA have all awarded Azerbaijan major events in recent years, including the recent Europa League final.

Back to Ozil and China, clubs across Europe have turned a blind eye to human rights issues for a long time. They chase money agreeing to play friendlies in China, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.

Every club should now stand with Ozil over his comments. Stand with the Uighur Muslim’s, stand with those who have been detained, killed elsewhere across the globe for having a different religion, race or sexuality.

Amnesty International recently called for “clubs – the coaches, players, and backroom staff – to use their considerable influence to press for greater recognition of human rights.”

Ozil is in the right highlighting a human rights issue in China. Imagine how much more powerful the message would be if, following China’s boycott of Arsenal, the Premier League stood together as one and boycotted China.

No more selling TV rights to the country, no more holding money-spinning friendlies there. Not until they have sorted themselves out. Cleaned up their act. Stopped detaining millions for simply following another religion.

Standing together will not happen, however.

Take a look at Manchester City. Current Premier League champions.

The City Football Group, who own the club, Abu Dhabi United Group and a consortium of Chinese state-backed investment firms. Are they really going to take a stand against what is happening in nations across the globe when they are owned by those states committing the atrocities?

Until clubs and the authorities grow a pair and stop selling themselves to the highest bidder, it will be up to the likes of Mesut Ozil to bravely stand on his own and speak up for those who have no voice.

Ozil might polarise support on the pitch, but we should stand with him when it comes to speaking up against human right breaches.

I stand with Ozil.

Keenos

New (interim) Head Coach – Same Old Performance

Anyone that thought that by simply sacking Unai Emery Arsenal would begin to turn in world beating performances were clearly very naïve.

Freddie Ljungberg had been in temporary charge of the squad for just 2 training sessions prior to the game against Norwich. We saw a few tweets (Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka returning) but overall it was the same players playing the same way under Unai Emery.

What yesterday exposed was the it is not just Emery and his inconsistent tactics and formation that was the problem. The players themselves need to look at their own performances.

For too long many of the players have escaped criticism, with firstly Arsene Wenger and then Unai Emery taking the brunt of fans anger.

Individual players, such as Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka have taken abuse from the fans; but many players have escaped such criticism.

The likes of Alexandre Lacazette have been distinctly average for some time.

Oddly named Arsenal Player of the Season last year following 134 league goals, Lacazette has been extremely inconsistent during his time at the club – 40 goals in 103 games is not a great record. Lacazette is certainly one player who has escaped any sort of criticism.

What is becoming very clear and obvious is that our squad is made up of a lot of players who are either:

  1. Not good enough or;
  2. Not mentally strong enough

In defence we make too many mistakes. This is highlighted by how many penalties we give away.

David Luiz, Mustafi and Sokratis all have a mistake in them. They are all senior internationals. A new manager is not going to suddenly improve them; cut out their error ridden games.

It is the same in midfield.

The centre of the park has been a huge problem for Arsenal in recent years.

Unbalanced with players who can not defend, can not pass, can not drive the ball forward. The fact is if Francis Coquelin was still at the club, he would probably be our best midfielder.

Not in recent memory have we had a midfield that passes the ball so poorly.

Like with the defenders making individual errors, the feeling is the sloppiness of the likes of Granit Xhaka is now ingrained into his game. He is beyond the point where it can be coached out of him.

Simply put, we have too many players who make too many mistakes and no change of manager will make a difference.

These are not young kids who can be coached to improvement – these are senior internationals who are not taking responsibility over their own performances.

When Chelsea won the Champions League, they had a weak coach in Roberto Di Matteo. But they have the likes of Petr Cech, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and John Terry on the pitch. They had a team of leaders similar to what Arsenal had during the unbeaten season.

The England rugby team had similar in 2007.

Andy Robinson was a poor coach, out of his depth. The senior players got their heads together and drove the team to the final.

Arsenal lack any leaders on the pitch.

Emery’s policy of having multiple leaders makes sense (it is used throughout Europe as well as in cricket and rugby) but it only works it you have actual leaders on the pitch.

There is no point having a senior leadership team if its members are merely members because they are senior, and not because they have any leadership skills.

Regardless of who replaces Unai Emery, things will not change at Arsenal until the players attitudes change.

They either need to step up and take responsibility for their own poor performances or be moved on.

Keenos

Mesut Ozil, I just don’t think you understand….

Mesut Ozil is arguably the biggest enigma we have had at The Arsenal – He is Brilliant, Magical, Inspiring, Frustrating, Lazy, World Class and opinion dividing all in one – I don’t think I have ever seen a player that has split the opinion of a fan base more than Mesut Ozil.

213 assists in 579 career club appearances, 65 goal involvements in 92 aps for Germany. He has been the top provider in Germany, Spain, England, a World Cup, Euros and the Champions League – that tells you all you need to know about his strengths. On his day he is arguably the best number 10 world football, the most creative footballer in the planet. This has been back up by Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger and Joachim Low who made him integral parts of their team.

Many of Mesuts current and ex-team mates and say he is the best player they have played with technically; BUT the question that has always been asked about Mesut “Does he want it enough?” “Does he really care?” “Does he work hard enough?”

I guess as Arsenal fans a lot of people would say no to those 3 questions. Yet Ozil was an integral part of ending Arsenals 9 year trophy drought – he went on to win 3 FA Cups with Arsenal in 4 years.

Ozil joined Arsenal in 2013 following a promise he gave Arsene Wenger prior to joining Real Madrid 3 years earlier.

On the 31st January 2018 Mesut signed a new 3 year contract with Arsenal for £350,000 per week – this was the same time we lost Alexis Sanchez.

Sanchez was unbelievable for Arsenal at the time and was a huge blow to lose him to Manchester United. Mesut could have easily followed suit, but he didn’t he signed a new deal to stay at the club that he felt was his home – he has always paid a huge respect to the Arsenal fans that have always stuck by him.

When Unai Emery joined Arsenal he made Mesut Ozil one of his 5 captains but at the same time challenged Mesut by insisting he had to improve his work rate.

Ozil was reminded that he was no different to any other player in the squad and if he didn’t do what was asked of him he would not play.

That is fair enough – you have to adapt and as an Arsenal fan for over 30 years all I have ever wanted to see is a player give 100% for the shirt – especially if you are earning £350k a week!

Mesut managed 5 goals and 2 assists in 24 games in the Premier League in the 2018-19 season is this enough to justify his huge new contract? By far the biggest contract we have given to a player.

Some fans argued that we should have got rid of Mesut and given that kind of contract to Aaron Ramsey and kept him – I could see the logic in that.

Rambo is an Arsenal man with over 10 years under his belt for the club.

When struggling for game time under Unai Emery, when he did play you could see what he offered – 110% work rate and was hugely influential in getting us to the Europa League final which he missed due to injury!

Mesut I feel has always been a player that needs to feel completely free and have 100% confidence in him to really perform.

He clearly doesn’t have that under Unai Emery.

This season be has played only 1 game in the Premier League and has been left out of the last 3 match day squads. You can see that something is not right.

Rumours that he doesn’t fully apply himself training; that he has a tendency to call in sick on a regular basis circulate.

Is Unai making an example of Mesut? He famously had a similar power struggle at PSG with Neymar which clearly was won by Neymar; but is history repeating itself with Mesut? Unai Emery seems very reluctant to give Mesut the chance to redeem himself.

Why would you sign Mesut? To create goal scoring opportunities for his teammates and chip in with goals – that’s his strengths and that’s what he has been better than anyone else at for over a decade.

You certainly don’t sign someone like Mesut to track back and tackle. But is this where football has changed? Defending starts from the front and no matter who you are; you work hard, you press. Liverpool the perfect example of defending from the front.

Body language has never been Ozil’s best friend. Even when he is covering more distance than any other player, putting a shift in, he still looks lethargic.

Ozil has perhaps found himself as the victim of Arsenal’s defensive frailties.

The side is so shaky at the back with not enough cover from midfield, Emery has had to sacrifice the playmaker who can coast defensively to bring in someone harder working like Dani Ceballos.

But Ozil is still the best playmaker at the club and with Pepe, Lacazette and Aubameyang up top; if given the chance I struggle to see how we wouldn’t be more prolific. Perhaps the best form of defence is attack?

He was recently again voted in as one of the 5 captains but more importantly this was voted for by the players – does this tell us something we don’t know?

After a rare recent interview with The Athletic; Mesut has reaffirmed his love for the club:

“I have a contract until the summer of 2021 and I will be staying until then. When I signed the new deal, I thought about it very carefully and said it was one of the most important decisions of my footballing career.

I didn’t want to stay for just one or two more years, I wanted to commit my future to Arsenal and the club wanted me to do the same. You can go through difficult times, like this, but that is no reason to run away and I’m not going to. I’m here until at least 2021.

I said that Arsene Wenger was a big factor in me joining Arsenal — and he was — but ultimately I signed for the club. Even when Arsene announced he was leaving, I wanted to stay because I love playing for Arsenal and that’s why I’ve been here for six years.

I’m proud to be an Arsenal player, a fan and I’m happy here. Whenever people see me in the street I always say, ‘This is my home’. I’m going nowhere.”

Ozil has always done the PR stuff well. It is why he is a huge brand in his own right.

In his interview he said all the right things. It then actions speak louder than words.

Mesut Ozil clearly loves London – he clearly feels at home and when he is on it he is one of the most enjoyable players to watch playing this beautiful game – but where does he go from here? He is 31 now and his contract runs out in the summer of 2021.

It is difficult to see both Mesut Ozil and Unai Emery still being at the club come the summer of 2021 – but will either of them be here? If so who do you think?

One thing is for sure –Mesut Ozil at his best he has been an absolute joy to watch in the famous red and white and for me I won’t forget his best bits!

“We’ve got Ozil, Messsssssut Ozil” “I just don’t think you understand” But is he Unai’s man?

Kind regards,

Paul