Football’s authorities and China criticised the Arsenal star for highlighting the plight of the Uighurs. Now the mercurial player seems isolated and alienated

Last Sunday the legions of Premier League followers in China were denied the opportunity to watch Arsenal’s midfield maestro Mesut Özil’s early substitution in the 3-0 defeat to Manchester City. In what was perhaps his most conspicuous contribution to the game, Özil slowly trudged to the touchline and then made a show of kicking his discarded gloves in anger.

This minor act of either defiance or self-chastisement went unseen in the People’s Republic of China because the authorities deemed the match to be too politically sensitive to be screened. The reason for this decision was that two days earlier Özil, a Turkish-origin German and practising Muslim, had posted a message in Turkish on Twitter in which he condemned China’s widely reported mistreatment of Uighur Muslims.

It’s to Özil’s credit that he directed his angst outwards and brought attention to the miserable plight of the Uighurs

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