China to pull Premier League TV coverage this weekend over Ukraine support

Chinese broadcasters will not air Premier League matches this weekend in response to the league’s planned support of Ukraine, sources have confirmed to ESPN.

The news was first reported by the BBC.

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The Premier League announced on Wednesday that a show of solidarity with Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion of the country would be visible at all matches from Saturday through Monday. China is a close political ally of Russia.

“The Premier League and our clubs wholeheartedly reject Russia’s actions and will be showing support for the people of Ukraine at all matches this weekend,” read a statement from the league.

“We call for peace and our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted.”

Among the symbols of support, all 20 Premier League captains will wear special armbands in Ukrainian colors, and a moment of reflection and solidarity will be held before each game. Big screens and perimeter LED boards will display “Football stands together” against a backdrop of Ukrainian colors.

The Premier League also said that its logos would be changed to represent the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag and would be displayed across broadcasts in the UK and overseas.

This is not the first time that Chinese broadcasters have pulled coverage of the Premier League. In 2019, a game between Arsenal and Everton was blocked from airing on the state-run Chinese Central Television (CCTV) after then-Arsenal player Mesut Ozil criticised China’s treatment of its Muslim Uyghur minority.

On Thursday, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said that the Premier League’s broadcasting deal to show the league on Russian television was “under review.”