German FA president Reinhard Grindel has admitted that German football's governing body perhaps went about dealing with the situation regarding Mesut Ozil the wrong way.
The midfielder called curtains on his international career last month, following Die Mannschaft's disappointing exit from the 2018 World Cup, citing 'racism and disrespect' as the overriding factor in his decision.
Ozil had singled Grindel out for criticism, claiming: "In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose."
The president, though, has denied making a target of the midfielder, but he did admit that the FA made some mistakes when it came to addressing Ozil's concerns.
"Regarding the racist attacks, I could have taken a clearer position at some points and stood by Mesut Ozil," Grindel told Bild in a recent interview.
"I should have been clear with my words. Such attacks are completely unacceptable. I regret that he felt deserted by the DFB. It is important to say though, that I said nothing about his sporting performance after the World Cup. For me, it was obvious that we win together and lose together.
"To make an individual player responsible for our exit would be absurd."
DFB president Reinhard Grindel on Ozil to Bild: "I should have made my position clearer regarding the racist attacks and I should have protected Mesut Özil. I should have been speaking out clearly about this matter. I am sorry that he felt alone, not supported by the DFB..." 1/2— Ronan Murphy (@swearimnotpaul) August 18, 2018
Ozil's taking of photos with Turkey president Recep Tayyip Ergodan alongside Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan did not go down well with fans, and Grindel has intimated that an explanation from the Arsenal man would have done a lot to smooth things over.
"After the photos with president Erdogan, Ilkay Gundogan clearly and understandably made a statement," he explained.
"I would have liked the same from Ozil, because I know from conversations with fans that they too had questions on the matter.
"That must not be misinterpreted as criticism of his sporting performance. I would have liked such an explanation even if we ended up winning the World Cup."
Announcing his decision to retire, Ozil posted on Twitter in July: "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.
"But when high-ranking DFB officials treat me as they did, disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into political propaganda, then enough is enough."