Mesut Ozil has announced his retirement from the Germany national team.
Ozil has Turkish ancestry but grew up in Germany and defended his right to meet Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a lengthy statement in which he also attacked the German football federation (DFB). “For me, having a picture with President Erdoğan wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country,” Özil wrote on Twitter.
“My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting 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.”
Making direct reference to Reinhard Grindel, president of the DFB, Özil added: “People with racially discriminative 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.
“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. I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don’t. I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.”
Özil continued to criticize Grindel. “I will no longer stand for being a scapegoat for his incompetence and inability to do his job properly,” Özil wrote.