Premier League blocked in China over Ukraine support

Premier League blocked in China over Ukraine support

TV rights holders won't show weekend matches featuring blue and yellow flag-themed events

Jamie Vardy of Leicester City wears a shirt in support of Ukraine during the warmup before the Premier League club’s match with Burnley on March 1. (Reuters Photo)
Jamie Vardy of Leicester City wears a shirt in support of Ukraine during the warmup before the Premier League club’s match with Burnley on March 1. (Reuters Photo)

Chinese rights holders have told the Premier League they will not broadcast matches this weekend over the league’s planned show of support for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, the BBC has reported.

China is a close political ally of Russia, which has called its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” and threatened to jail those who publish "fake news" about the military.

The Premier League said on Wednesday that teams would show their support for Ukraine at games from March 5-7, with all 20 captains wearing special armbands in the Ukrainian colours of blue and yellow.

The league said fans are encouraged to join players, managers, match officials and club staff in a moment of reflection and solidarity before the kick-off at each match.

The screens at stadiums will display “Football Stands Together” against the backdrop of the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag.

The images are expected to be featured in international broadcast feeds.

But two Chinese rights holders for the league — the streaming platforms iQiyi Sports and Migu — show no plans to air the matches this weekend.

Earlier announcements of the partnerships indicated they would broadcast all games.

Some social media users noted the absence of the matches on schedules, reacting with a mix of disappointment and confusion.

The Premier League terminated a lucrative broadcasting contract with the streaming service PPTV in China in 2020, after it reportedly failed to make a £160-million payment due as the pandemic hit.

In 2019, the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV dropped an Arsenal vs Manchester City match after Gunners midfielder Mesut Ozil expressed support for mainly Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.


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