Mesut Özil, the talented Arsenal midfielder has decided he would no longer play international football for Germany. The 29-year-old Özil, who made his decision known some hours ago, in a lengthy statement, blamed his decision on the way he claimed he was treated by the German Football Association (DFB), following unexpected Germany’s early exit in the just concluded World Cup. The German footballer alleged that the DFB blamed him for the terrible performance of the German team. To him, the criticism has made him “no longer want to wear the German national team shirt”.
Özil directed much of his criticism on Reinhard Grindel, President of the DFB, whom he accused of racial tendencies.
“People with racially discriminating 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. In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win but I am an immigrant when we lose.”
Perhaps the alleged recent criticism is to Özil, the last drop, which forced him to make the radical decision. Before the disastrous World Cup, Özil was severely criticised in May for posing in photographs with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, together with other Turkish born footballer Ilkay Gundogan of Manchester City’s at a London event. Such photographs did not go well with some Germans politicians, who have been very critical of President Erdogan’s poor human rights records. They strongly questioned the players’ loyalty to German democratic values. While some argued that such photographs are a slap on Germany human rights and the rule of law values, which they argued, Özil should represent. Others could not understand why such photographs should carry political meanings, especially, in view of the player’s Turkish roots. Mesut Özil equally, defended his action and argued that the photographs were nothing more than a sign of respect for the president. He went ahead to argue that he only discussed football issues with the Turkish President and equally reminded his critics that they should not forget his Turkish background.
Obviously, President Erdogan might have had another agenda. It is generally believed that President Erdogan has been trying to use popular Turkish migrants in Europe to score some political victory at home, especially before the Turkish elections, which would give the President enormous power, following the referendum. It was, therefore, not surprising that Turkey’s ruling AK Party quickly released the photographs of the President with Özil and Gundogan. The release caused a mixed reaction in Germany, which led to the criticism of Özil. To some, the photograph with German-Turkish celebrities was a political coup by President Erdogan aimed at gaining political endorsement.
President Erdogan won the Turkish elections handsomely.
The relationship between Germany and Turkey has been seriously strained of recent, following President Erdogan’s excessive crackdown on the alleged political opposition after a failed coup. Özil, however, defended his photographs with the Turkish president and argued that his refusal to take such photographs would amount to a serious disrespect for his ancestors.
Mesut Özil has been one of the most talented midfielders today, who had represented Germany, 92 times, scored 23 goals for the country and won the World Cup in 2014 with Germany. Sadly, he alleged that he and family had received intimidating phone calls, threats, hate mails and hateful comments on the social media recently. Özil expressed his total disappointment in the way he claimed he has been unfairly treated – especially in view of all his years of sacrifices for Germany.
“My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting (with President Erdogan ) was not an endorsement of any policies. The treatment I have received from the DFB and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt. I feel unwanted and think what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.” Ozil added.