Alex HessFreelance sports writerTuesday 24 Dec 2019 10:57 amShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link100Shares A similar glimpse of corporate gutlessness in the face of political upset had occurred seven days earlier, when the Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil used his Instagram account to draw attention to the growing humanitarian crisis in China, where the government’s ongoing persecution of the country’s Uighur Muslims has been described as the largest incarceration of one ethnic group since the Holocaust.Human Rights Watch has called China’s actions ‘rampant abuses [that] violate fundamental rights’, and Ozil called for people with a voice to speak up.Arsenal’s response? To release a statement clarifying that the remarks were ‘entirely Özil’s personal opinion’ and that ‘Arsenal always adheres to the principle of not being involved in politics’. Tellingly, the statement was first published on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.A few days later, the Liverpool squad jetted out to Qatar, a state with what could generously be called repressive views on such matters as homosexuality and workers’ rights, to play a showpiece fixture in a stadium that has, over the past few years, been refurbished by modern-day slaves.When asked whether it was right for his side to be playing a fixture in Qatar, Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp opted for evasion. ‘I think the answers should come from people who know more about it,’ he said. ‘I have to be influential in football but not in politics. Anything I say wouldn’t help, it would just create another headline.’ Advertisement Comment Qatar has enough cash to emblazon its national airline across the shirt of one heavyweight club (Picture: VI Images via Getty Images)Clearly the lesson is that headlines are to be avoided. And especially so when there’s money at stake: Sky Sports pay about £1.2bn a year to televise Premier League matches; China’s own broadcasting deal with the league is worth £564m; and as for Qatar, well, it has enough cash in its coffers to buy itself the 2022 World Cup, emblazon its national airline across the shirt of one heavyweight club – Barcelona – and own another one outright – Paris Saint-Germain.AdvertisementAdvertisementThe oft-touted idea that you can ‘keep politics out of sport’ has always been an odd one for those of us who prefer the idea that politics, like sport, is part of life.But it makes even less sense when the sport so vigilantly distancing itself from the thornier side of politics is at the same time marketing itself across the globe on a seeming policy of cash first, questions later.Arsenal’s shirt, for instance, is adorned with the slogan of the tourist board of Rwanda, whose own entry on the Human Rights Watch website is extensive; the Premier League’s current broadcasting deals extend to 38 countries or territories, leaving almost no part of the world untouched; and much of Liverpool’s dizzying recent success is down to the money extracted from ardent fanbases cultivated in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.More: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man CityEnglish football’s extraordinary publicity drive of the last quarter-century has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams. It is now a global brand: arguably Britain’s most valuable export, almost certainly its most popular.At best, football could use its popularity – and the political currency and financial security it brings – to take a moral stand: turning down money from Rwanda is not going to leave Arsenal bereft of would-be sponsors, boycotting a tournament in Qatar would hardly bankrupt Liverpool.But if that’s too much to ask, then football must recognise that politics is not something that can simply be opted out of, an inconvenience to be kept at arm’s length when awkward questions arise.AdvertisementAt the very least, the choice to not speak up is in itself a fairly resounding statement of intent. And in an age when money talks, it is dismayingly clear that football is determined to stay silent.MORE: Calls for Government to investigate football racism after Antonio Rudiger alleged abuseMORE: Mikel Arteta offers Arsenal lifeline to Mesut Ozil after criticism from Freddie LjungbergMORE: Arsene Wenger wants return to management at 2022 World Cup in Qatar Football needs more people like Gary Neville, who know the sport can’t opt out of politics The oft-touted idea that you can ‘keep politics out of sport’ has always been an odd one for those of us who prefer the idea that politics, like sport, is part of life (Picture: Ryan Browne/BPI/REX)Gary Neville was recently in the middle of a fierce dissection of the role played by British politicians in fanning the flames of football’s racism crisis when the Sky Sports presenter David Jones moved quickly to interject.‘I am compelled to say they are the views of you, Gary Neville, and not those of Sky Sports,’ said a visibly sheepish Jones. ‘That is my duty.’It marked a fitting end to a week in which football had missed no opportunity to ditch its moral duties for the sake of an easy life.Neville had been speaking forcefully – albeit without political bias – about the drip-down effects of racism in politics and clearly his words had caused unease behind the camera.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENTJones was left as the fall-guy, flattening an important moral point in the name of ‘balanced debate’ and ensuring that sport and politics were, for the purposes of his employers, kept strictly separate.The problem is that English football – which since 1992 has steadily turned itself into a global mega-brand, thanks largely to Sky Sports’ cash – is now so big that it’s unavoidably tied up in politics. Pretending otherwise only makes you look silly.”We have to empower the players to walk off the pitch and stop the entertainment while it’s happening.”The Super Sunday panel discuss the incident of alleged racism in the second half of Tottenham vs Chelsea. pic.twitter.com/mgEw0NlT7F— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 22, 2019 Advertisement
Comment Arteta faces some tough decisions on player transfers this summer (Picture: Getty Images)Arsenal also have to contend with the pressing contract situations of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil and Bukayo Saka.All three players’ deals at the Emirates are due to expire in 2021 and if extensions are not agreed, they will walk away for free.Top scorer Aubameyang has previously been the subject of interest from the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid, while Arsenal chiefs reportedly want to offload Ozil this summer.More: Arsenal FCArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira movesThomas Partey debut? Ian Wright picks his Arsenal starting XI vs Manchester CityArsene Wenger explains why Mikel Arteta is ‘lucky’ to be managing Arsenal30-year-old Aubameyang challenged the club to prove to him that staying on with the Gunners is this right move for him at this stage in his career.Arteta directly responded to that statement, admitting that he has a ‘very clear plan’ for the club’s future.‘We have a very clear plan of what we want to do from now on,’ the Spaniard said.‘The players know where the club is standing and we are moving in the right direction.’MORE: Jose Mourinho begins north London derby mind games early and claims Arsenal have big advantageMORE: Former Arsenal and Chelsea star Nicolas Anelka names surprise choice as best manager he’s played underFollow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.For more stories like this, check our sport page. Metro Sport ReporterTuesday 23 Jun 2020 12:31 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link2.9kShares Mings has been one of Villa’s standout players this season (Picture: Getty Images)Arsenal are reportedly one of a number of Premier League clubs interested in Aston Villa centre-back Tyrone Mings this summer, but they may be unable to afford him.The Gunners’ defensive woes continued with back-to-back losses to Manchester City and Brighton last week.Mikel Arteta also lost Pablo Mari to a serious ankle injury which could rule him out until November, while the future of David Luiz looks increasingly uncertain with his one-year contract set to expire on June 30.According to The Athletic’s David Ornstein, Mings is a player that the north London club ‘like’, but there are doubts over whether they could afford the fee Aston Villa are looking for.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENTVilla signed the England centre-back on a permanent deal for a fee of £20 million last summer, but less than a year later, he is already on the radar of a couple of big Premier League clubs.Mikel Arteta is also said to be on the lookout for a winger, with Chelsea’s Willian an ‘attractive’ option as he is set to become a free agent in the next transfer window. Advertisement Arsenal interested in Aston Villa centre-back Tyrone Mings Advertisement
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