Mesut Ozil has stepped away from the Germany national team over claims of racism after he posed for a polarizing photo with Turkey's president.

By 90Min
August 28, 2018

Ilkay Gundogan has vowed to continue playing for Germany, despite backing Mesut Ozil over the claims of racism which saw the Arsenal midfielder step away from international duty.

Gundogan and Ozil, both Germans of Turkish origin, sparked a furore in their home country when they were photographed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a reception in London in May.

The subsequent backlash, much of which targeted Gundogan and Ozil's heritage, cast a shadow over Germany's World Cup campaign, which ended early with a dismal group stage exit.

Asked whether Ozil's allegations of racist criticism were accurate, Gundogan referred to comments made by former councillor Bernd Holzhauer in his response.

"Tell me: Is it not racism if a German politician takes to Facebook that the Germany team is made out of 25 Germans and two goat f******?" Gundogan told Funke Media.

"Such remarks must be labeled as racism. However, it does not mean that everyone in Germany is racist. Absolutely not. Almost all of my experiences in my life in Germany have been positive. 

"But there are people who have used the photo for their political agenda. And in this context, the racism line was sometimes crossed."

Ozil also claimed that the racist attitudes were an institutional problem within the German football federation as he announced his retirement in July.

Gundogan will continue to make himself available for selection, despite admitting: "I had my doubts if things could be like they were before.

"I am still proud to play for Germany. If I get the call-up, I see no reason to not continue. I also know that I owe a lot to the DFB in my career," Gundogan said.

Joachim Low will name his squad for next month's UEFA Nations League match against World Cup winners France on Wednesday.

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