The German outfit’s decision follows Mesut Ozil calling out the country for their alleged persecution of Uighur Muslims in the Far East
Bundesliga side Cologne have confirmed their intention to pull out of a deal that would have seen them run a football academy in China, with a club council member suggesting that the country has a “brutal dictatorship” so bad that 1984 novelist George Orwell couldn’t have imagined it.
The partnership would have been worth £1.5 million ($2m) to the outfit that returned to the Bundesliga from the second tier last season, but it was put on hold over the summer and the club have now announced that they will no longer go ahead with the plans.
The decision, of course, comes after Mesut Ozil called out the country via social media for their alleged persecution of Uighur Muslims, something China’s foreign ministry vehemently claims is not true and that the Arsenal man has been deceived by “fake news”.
Cologne club council member Stefan Muller-Romer, who had previously sat on the board, told KSA: “I understand that Germany can’t completely get by without China and that there is an exchange between the two countries, but we don’t need China in sport and I stand by that.
“In China, human rights are being massively disregarded. A complete surveillance state is being built, one worse than even George Orwell could have imagined. I have followed developments in China for more than 20 years and I have been there several times. I know what I’m talking about.”
A lawyer by trade, Muller-Romer added: “That is why I am of the opinion that Cologne should not be active there.
“Making money at any cost is not an option for me. Apart from the fact that it is questionable whether it is possible to make money there, there are more important things than money.
“And as a non-profit organisation, that is socially active, we cannot support such a brutal and totalitarian dictatorship.”
The footballing world appears to be split on Ozil’s comments regarding the Chinese government, with Yaya Toure – a fellow Muslim – stating that footballers should stay out of politics, while Arsenal, who have commercial interests in China, moved quickly to distance themselves from Ozil’s post, claiming that the player’s views do not represent those of the club.
Ozil wrote: “East Turkistan, the bleeding wound of the Ummah, resisting against the persecutors trying to separate them from their religion. They burn their Qurans. They shut down their mosques. They ban their schools. They kill their holy men.
“The men are forced into camps and their families are forced to live with Chinese men. The women are forced to marry Chinese men.
“But Muslims are silent. They won’t make a noise. They have abandoned them. Don’t they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself?”