Mesut Ozil quits Germany over ‘racism and disrespect’ - reactions

Arsenal midfielder ends his international career and hits out at the German FA

Mesut Ozil Germany quit
Mesut Ozil won the 2014 World Cup, played 92 times and scored 23 goals for Germany
(Image credit: Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images)

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has quit international football because of “racism and disrespect”.

The 29-year-old bore the brunt of German fans’ displeasure when they were humiliatingly dumped out of the World Cup last month in the group stage.

It wasn’t just his lacklustre displays on the field that angered supporters and sections of the media, but also his decision earlier in the year to pose for a photograph with Turkey’s controversial president, Recep Erdogan, during a visit to London.

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Accused of naivety by some, Ozil was also criticised for appearing to tacitly support a leader whose crackdown on human rights has led to several clashes with the German government in recent years.

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Divided loyalties

That led some Germans to question where Ozil’s loyalties lay – given his Turkish background – and the midfielder never managed to win back the trust of the fans.

He was dropped after Germany’s defeat to Mexico, missing the win against Sweden, but recalled for the game against South Korea, the match that the defending champions lost as they failed to make the knockout stage of the tournament for the first time since 1938.

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Racism and disrespect

The fallout from that failure has been fierce for all the squad, but on Sunday, as the Daily Mirror reports, Ozil posted three open letters on social media announcing his retirement from international football.

“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,” wrote Ozil.

“I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don’t. This decision has been extremely difficult to make because I have always given everything for my team-mates, the coaching staff and the good people of Germany.”

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Political propaganda

Ozil then took aim at the DFB, the governing body of German football, with controversial comments that are unlikely to go down well in his homeland.

He added: “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. That is not why I play football, and I will not sit back and do nothing about it.

“Racism should never, ever be accepted. 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 that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten. People with racially discriminative backgrounds should not be allowed to work in the largest football federation in the world that has many players from dual-heritage families.”

BBC Sport reports that Ozil also posted a message on social media defending his decision to pose for a photograph in May with Erdogan (and also Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan), a picture that was subsequently “released by Turkey’s governing AK Party in the build-up to elections in the country”.

Had he declined the invitation to appear with the Turkish president, explained Ozil, he would have been “disrespecting his ancestors’ roots”.

How the football world reacted to Ozil’s statement:

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