The National Football League (NFL) faced backlash on Wednesday afternoon over a map it published that showed Taiwan belonging to China.
The map was released in conjunction with an announcement that “18 teams have been granted access to 26 International Home Marketing Areas (IHMA) across eight different countries,” the statement said. “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 map showed that the Los Angeles Rams had been granted access to China, which, according to the map distributed by the NFL, included Taiwan.
.@NFL Announces International Home Marketing Area Teams and Markets
— NFL345 (@NFL345) December 15, 2021
Modern day Taiwan came into being in the late 1940s when more than a million people from China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) government retreated to the island during a bloody civil war with the Chinese Communist Party.
As Taiwan’s government explains:
The ROC was founded in 1912 in China. At that time, Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule as a result of the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki, by which the Qing ceded Taiwan to Japan. The ROC government began exercising jurisdiction over Taiwan in 1945 after Japan surrendered at the end of World War II.
The ROC government relocated to Taiwan in 1949 while fighting a civil war with the Chinese Communist Party. Since then, the ROC has continued to exercise effective jurisdiction over the main island of Taiwan and a number of outlying islands, leaving Taiwan and China each under the rule of a different government. The authorities in Beijing have never exercised sovereignty over Taiwan or other islands administered by the ROC.
The NFL’s map garnered the following responses online:
- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): “The NFL, which is chasing dollars from the Chinese Communist Party, shows Taiwan as part of China. Disgraceful cowardice.”
- Rep. Carlos A. Gimenez (R-FL): “Hey @NFL , why are you depicting China and Taiwan as the same country? Do you not believe in the freedom of Taiwan? Stop shilling for the #CCP. It’s shameful to profit off the oppression of the Taiwanese people and the slavery of the Uyghurs.”
- Jon Gabriel, columnist: “Why do you include Taiwan as part of China? Taiwan is an independent country.”
- Ian Miles Cheong, writer: “The NFL caves to communist China and falsely lists Taiwan as a part of Chinese territory.”
- Stephen L. Miller, political commentator: “Maybe the NFL should cease weighing in on social issues until it figures out why giving the LA Rams both China and Australia was a hilariously naïve move. The LA Rams are going to be conducting delicate international diplomacy between China and Australia this is how nuclear war happens.”
- Ben Fischer, reporter: “This is why I think so many of us are surprised the Rams want to bother with China. I mean, the map itself invites trouble — and the world if full of people watching very closely.”
- Sarah McLaughlin, free speech advocate: “I would love to hear how the NFL is planning (if at all) to deal with the free speech challenges that will inevitably develop here. Their initial response to these issues in the U.S. was bad enough; what can we expect if they get their own NBA/China-type controversy? I don’t want to read too much into it but from this map it sure looks like the NFL is already trying its best to avoid getting pushed out of China’s market.”
- Morgan Ortagus, former Trump official: “Maybe someone could have, I don’t know, googled Taiwan and China before they produced the map?”
Other notable responses included:
— Jason Church (@JasonChurchWI) December 15, 2021
NFL takes a page out the NBA’s pathetic playbook and sides with the Chinese Communist Party….
Taiwan is NOT part of China. https://t.co/lXFENuyoNa
— Nathan Brand (@NathanBrandWA) December 15, 2021
— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) December 16, 2021
NFL seems to have decided which team Taiwan is on https://t.co/6sDKVSb0gW
— Gady Epstein (@gadyepstein) December 15, 2021
Would love to read the email debates over Taiwan on this map. https://t.co/ubZAJI20Ol
— Matt Ford (@fordm) December 16, 2021
— Tony Nash (@TonyNashNerd) December 16, 2021
— Marc J. Randazza (@marcorandazza) December 16, 2021