The NFL appeared to endorse the Chinese Communist Party’s claims to sovereignty over Taiwan on Wednesday in a map announcing the NFL’s international marketing.
The world map shared by the NFL colored the Chinese mainland, the People’s Republic of China, as well as the island of Taiwan, also called the Republic of China, the same red, labeling both as part of “China,” with the red and yellow CCP flag. The name “Taiwan” and the nation’s distinctive red, white, and blue flag are absent.
Taiwan is an independent island nation off the coast of mainland China. The repressive and authoritarian CCP has long sought to bring the territory under its control, while Taiwan is self-governed and receives U.S. defense support despite not being formally recognized. U.S. relations with Taiwan became unofficial in 1979 after the United States agreed to establish diplomatic relations with the CCP-ruled Chinese mainland.
.@NFL Announces International Home Marketing Area Teams and Markets— NFL345 (@NFL345) December 15, 2021
For more information, click here: https://t.co/ooPlFa3XKX pic.twitter.com/NvSU0wBVix
There have been growing fears in recent months that the CCP might be considering an invasion of Taiwan, with CCP outlets becoming increasingly bellicose in their language toward Taiwan.
The Los Angeles Rams were granted access to the Chinese “international home marketing area” by the NFL.
The NFL announced Thursday that “18 teams have been granted access to 26 International Home Marketing Areas across eight different countries” starting in 2022, with the other seven countries being Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The league added that “this ground-breaking, new initiative grants clubs access to international territories for marketing, fan engagement, and commercialization as part of an important, long-term, strategic effort to enable clubs to build their global brands while driving NFL fan growth internationally.”
The NFL did not respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.
The owner of the Rams is Stan Kroenke, a billionaire businessman who owns Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, a holding company with ownership over other sports teams, including Arsenal Football Club, a London-based soccer team.
Arsenal stirred controversy when it distanced itself from comments made by one of its players, Mesut Ozil, who shared a tweet and an Instagram post in December 2019 condemning China’s treatment of the Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
The Trump administration declared in January that the Chinese government was conducting genocide against the Uyghurs and other religious and ethnic minorities in western China, and the Biden administration said that genocide is ongoing.
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Chinese state-run CCTV, the Premier League’s broadcast partner in China, responded to Ozil’s remarks by refusing to air an Arsenal match and then later refusing to say his name on the air when broadcasts resumed. Ozil contended that Arsenal continued to attempt to silence and punish him in private, which the soccer team denied.
ESPN also faced criticism in October 2019 when its broadcast showed a map of the PRC that also encompassed Taiwan and featured a version of the so-called nine-dash line — the CCP’s broad claims to disputed territories in the South China Sea.