After defending his decision to pose for a picture with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mesut Ozil says he feels disrespected by the German national team.
BERLIN (AP) — Mesut Ozil is defending his decision to pose for a picture with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying it wasn’t an endorsement of his politics.
The Arsenal star broke weeks of silence on the issue Sunday, posting a statement in English on Twitter in which he said the photo “was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country” and had “no political intentions.”
Ilkay Gundogan, who also posed for a photo with Ozil at London’s Four Seasons hotel in May, has previously distanced himself from the picture which sparked fierce criticism in Germany, arguing that Erdogan does not respect or represent German values.
Some German politicians questioned Ozil and Gundogan’s loyalty and suggested the players, who have Turkish roots, should be struck from the national squad ahead of the World Cup.
After the event at the Four Seasons, the photographs were released by Turkey's governing AK Party in the build-up to national elections in July. Erdogan won those in the first round.
Later on, however, Ozil commented on DFB President Reinhard Grindel and the level of disrespect and racism he received, due to his bacgkround as a Turkish-German player and stating he would "no longer stand for being a scapegoat for his incompetence and inability to do his job properly." As a result, he stated he would no longer play for the national side "whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect."
Ozil states threats and hateful comments to his family, stating a level of racism fully felt this past few months.
"The DFB of course respects the special situation for our players with migrant backgrounds, but football and the DFB stands for values that Mr. Erdogan does not sufficiently respect. Therefore, it is not a good thing that our internationals have let themselves be exploited for his election campaign stunt. It certainly hasn't helped the DFB's integration efforts."
Ozil returns to action with his club Arsenal as part of their pre-season tour in Singapore where they will face Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain as part of the International Champions Cup.