Yaya Toure: Mesut Ozil wrong to speak out against China

Former Barcelona and Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has said that Arsenal forward Mesut Ozil should not have spoken out to denounce human rights in China.

Ozil criticised China's treatment of its Muslim Uighur minority via Twitter on Friday, leading to Chinese Central Television (CCTV) removing Arsenal's Premier League defeat to Manchester City on Sunday from their TV schedule.

While saying the situation is "complicated" because they are both Muslim, Toure disagreed with Ozil over whether athletes should use their platforms to discuss political issues.

"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," Toure told The Associated Press.

"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 former Ivory Coast international, has just completed five months playing at Chinese second-tier club Qingdao Huanghai.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came out in support of Ozil on Tuesday via social media.

Arsenal, who have been commercially active in China in recent years and even opened a restaurant in Shanghai in 2018, quickly distanced themselves from Ozil's comments.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.