Mesut Ozil announces international retirement following racism row
Written by: Neelav Chakravarti
The attacking midfielder and his teammate Illkay Gundogan were photographed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently.
Germany and Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil has confirmed that he is retiring from international football with immediate effect, after facing alleged racial abuse from some members of the German Football Association.
The 29-year old was a member of Germany’s World Cup squad in Russia. He was one of the few players to be singled out for criticism, as the European nation got knocked out at the group stage.
Even before the tournament started, the saga involving Ozil and teammate Ilkay Gundogan had already begun. A photograph, for which they had posed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of the tournament led to a frenzy of mixed opinions and criticism.
Ozil’s loyalty to his nation was also subsequently questioned. Die Mannschaft team manager Oliver Bierhoff stated that the 2014 World Cup winner should have been dropped from Joachim Low’s side, after his failure to explain the picture with Erdogan.
The former Real Madrid midfielder – of mixed German and Turkish descent – defended the incident via his social media accounts on Sunday. This was also the first time, he publicly explained the incident. The Arsenal talisman said that he and family members had received threats via email, phone calls and social media.
In his statement, he mentioned, “For me, having a picture with President Erdogan wasn't about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office in my family's country."
The past couple of weeks have given me time to reflect, and time to think over the events of the last few months. Consequently, I want to share my thoughts and feelings about what has happened. pic.twitter.com/WpWrlHxx74— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) July 22, 2018
He further added, “My job is a football player and not a politician and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies.”
"People with racially discriminative backgrounds should not be allowed to work in the largest football federation in the world that has players from dual-heritage families. Attitudes like theirs simply do not reflect the players they supposedly represent.”
He also added, “The treatment I have received from the DFB (German Football Association) and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt.”
He also singled out DFB president Richard Grindel for mistreatment. Ozil said, “Arguably, the issue that has frustrated me the most over the past couple of months has been the mistreatment from the DFB and in particular the DFB President Richard Grindel.”
II / III pic.twitter.com/Jwqv76jkmd— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) July 22, 2018
"Whilst I attempted to explain to Grindel my heritage, ancestry and therefore reasoning behind the photo, he was far more interested in speaking about his own political views and belittling my opinion.
"I will no longer stand for being a scapegoat for his (Grindel's) incompetence and inability to do his job properly."
III / III pic.twitter.com/c8aTzYOhWU— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) July 22, 2018
After the incident, there has been a lot of support for Ozil too. Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummeinigge and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp have openly expressed their support for the player.
Rummenigge said, "For me, there is a lack of clear professional handling in a crisis situation. At the same time, I'm not surprised given that the DFB is filled with amateurs."
Ozil debuted for Germany on 11 February 2009 in a friendly against Norway. He went on to play in the 2010, 2014, and 2018 FIFA World Cups as well as 2012 and 2016 UEFA Euro tournaments.
Published: Mon Jul 23, 2018 04:02 PM IST