China is withdrawing broadcasts of the English Premier League because of the football organization’s plans to run a massive pro-Ukraine campaign amid the ongoing conflict in the country.
The Premier League expressed its full-bodied support for Ukraine, stating it “wholeheartedly rejects Russia’s actions,” and several clubs participating in the league have also demonstrated against the Russian invasion by flying the Ukrainian flag in advance of their matches.
"We call for peace and our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted," Premier League organizers said.
Protests in support of Ukraine were held at various games played by Everton, Manchester City, Manchester United, Crystal Palace, Brighton and others.
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who owns a massive stake in Chelsea, pledged to support “all victims of the war in Ukraine,” and confirmed that he was going to sell his stake in the football club.
China’s move to pull the broadcasts comes amid the country’s directive to avoid posting criticism of Russia or taking any sides in the war.
As reported by Rebel News, in February the Chinese Communist Party’s central propaganda department, the China Digital Times, accidentally posted a directive to the social media site Weibo that read as follows: “With immediate effect, regarding all Weibo posts about Ukraine: Horizon News to post first [on this topic], to be reposted by other major accounts.”
“No pro-Western posts, no posts critical of Russia. All initial copy to be reviewed by us [the CCP propaganda department] prior to posting,” the order, quoted by a video account linked to the Beijing News, said.
Over the coming weekend, British football clubs are expected to display gestures of solidarity with Ukraine, with the captains of all Premier League teams intending to wear yellow armbands in support of Ukraine. The screens inside stadiums are set to declare the message “football stands together,” in Ukrainian colors, The Athletic reported.
Spectators will also be given an opportunity to take a moment of silence in solidarity with Ukraine at the start of every match.
Despite the ban in China, the Premier League has not commented on the move although it seems more than eager to “review” its deals with Russian broadcasters.