Erdogan Calls Ozil, Hails Decision To Quit German Team

This picture taken on May 13, 2018 and released on May 14, 2018 by the Turkish Presidential Press office Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) poses for a photo with German footballers of Turkish origin Ilkay Gundogan (L) and Mesut Ozil (2nd L) in London. 
KAYHAN OZER / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP

 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said he had spoken to Turkish-origin football star Mesut Ozil after his decision to quit the German team on the grounds of racism, offering his praise for the move.

“Last night I spoke to Mesut. His attitude in the statement is completely patriotic.

“It is not possible to accept this kind of racist attitude towards a young man who poured so much sweat for the German national team’s success. This cannot be tolerated,” Erdogan said, quoted by state TRT Haber broadcaster.

Ozil’s decision to quit playing for Germany and his strongly-worded four-page statement caused uproar in Germany even as it was applauded by Turkish ministers.

He had faced heavy criticism during the World Cup, especially over a controversial photograph with Erdogan in May ahead of presidential and parliamentary polls in Turkey.

Ozil, a key member of the squad which won the 2014 World Cup, criticised the German Football Association (DFB) bosses, sponsors and the media.

He lamented a lack of support from DFB president Reinhard Grindel.

“In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Ozil, 29, wrote.

But the association said in a statement on Monday that it rejected “the notion that the DFB is associated with racism”.

In his statement, Ozil addressed critics of the photo and said that he was not making a political statement when he appeared with the Turkish leader before the World Cup finals.

“I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish,” said Ozil.

Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul on Monday congratulated Ozil, saying he had “scored the most beautiful goal against the virus of fascism.”

AFP

Ozil Quits German National Football Team Citing Racism, Disrespect

In this file photo taken on June 27, 2018, Germany’s midfielder Mesut Ozil reacts at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group F football match between South Korea and Germany at the Kazan Arena in Kazan. PHOTO: Luis Acosta / AFP

 

Mesut Ozil said on Sunday that he was quitting the German national football team, citing “racism” in the criticism of him in the side’s World Cup debacle.

“It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events, I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect,” he tweeted.

Ozil, who has Turkish roots, had earlier defended his decision to pose for a controversial photograph with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May which sparked questions about his loyalty to Germany’s squad ahead of the World Cup in Russia.

In a three-part statement on Twitter sent over the course of the day, an angry Ozil saved his bombshell for the final salvo.

In it, the Arsenal midfielder blamed the German Football Federation (DFB) for failing to defend him against his most strident critics.

“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,” he said.

He said that Grindel and Germany coach Joachim Loew had asked him to give a “joint statement to end all the talk and set the record straight” over the picture with Erdogan.

“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.”

Ozil said he had been unfairly blamed in Germany for the side’s shock first-round defeat at the World Cup.

“I will no longer stand for being a scapegoat for his (Grindel’s) incompetence and inability to do his job properly,” he said.

Ozil said earlier that he was true to both his Turkish and German origins and insisted he did not intend to make a political statement by appearing with Erdogan.

‘I have two hearts’

“Like many people, my ancestry traces back to more than one country. Whilst I grew up in Germany, my family background has its roots firmly based in Turkey,” he said.

“I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish.”

Ozil, 29, said he had first met Erdogan in 2010 after the President and German Chancellor Angela Merkel watched a Germany-Turkey match together in Berlin.

Ozil said that despite the timing of the picture with teammate Ilkay Gundogan and Erdogan — shortly before the president won re-election in a poll endowing him with sweeping new powers — “it wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country”.

“My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies,” Ozil added.

Germany is home to more than three million people of Turkish origin.

Ozil and Gundogan were booed by German fans in pre-World Cup friendlies after posing with Erdogan in London.

Manchester City midfielder Gundogan presented him with a signed club shirt on which he had written “to my president”.

After the tournament, Ozil came in for stinging criticism by DFB officials and German politicians across the spectrum.

Team boss Oliver Bierhoff suggested after the debacle that Germany should have considered dropping Ozil after his failure to explain himself over the Erdogan picture.

Bierhoff later backtracked, saying that he “was wrong” to put Ozil under undue pressure, but the picture continued to draw scorn from fans on social media.

Meanwhile, former captain Lothar Matthaeus accused Ozil of no longer looking comfortable in the Germany shirt.

AFP