Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil is now safe to be called former Germany midfielder after he announced his retirement from international football yesterday following series of hostile treatment from the German FA spanning from racism to disrespect as he claims, being made a scapegoat after their group stage World Cup 2018 exit
Ozil was heavily criticized after Germany encountered their worst World Cup performance in 80 years; backlashes came in from different quarters of Germany which was a spill over effect of the picture he took alongside controversial Turkist president Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a London event a month before the World cup began.
In a lengthy statement posted on social media, the 29-year-old said he did not feel accepted in German society despite paying taxes, donating to good causes there, and being a World Cup winner claiming he has been a subject of ‘political propaganda’ and no longer feels pride in wearing the Germany national team shirt.
Arsenal’s Ozil who has always been proud of his Turkish decent met Tayyip Erdogan in May and shown presenting an Arsenal signed shirt to Erdogan after an invite from the Turkish president along with his fellow Germany international and Manchester City Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan both of Turkish decent. Ozil says talks through their meeting was strictly about football together with Gundogan and the president also alongside Everton striker Cenk Tosun.
Afterwards, photographs were released of their meeting by Turkey’s governing AK Party in the build-up to elections in Turkey, which Erdogan won glaringly, which resulted towards questions of loyalty to German Democratic Values thrown at Ozil and Gundogan from different German politicians.
Ikay Gundogan was then forced to later issued a statement in which he clarifies that his loyalty lies with Germany and “honours German values 100%” and never intended the picture to be seen as a show of political support.” after also which the players met with the German FA president to explain what the picture meant.
The image raised so many questions being that Germany previously criticised the Turkish leader’s crackdown on political dissent following a failed coup and with overriding power in Turkey, President Erdogan has been described as a modern-day dictator by his harshest critics and his three-day London visit was met with protests from a number of human-rights groups.
Ozil while explaining further in his open letter pointed out that The Turkey president also met the Queen and Prime Minister Theresa May while in England as part of his political plans and also said he would have been “disrespecting his ancestors’ roots”, had he not posed for photographs with the Turkish president, an act his mother has always told him never to exhibit.
As posted on twitter, Ozil started by saying: “The past couple of weeks have given me time to reflect and time to think over the events of the last few months. Consequently, I want to share my thoughts and feelings about what has happened”
He went further on by saying:
“The treatment I have received from the DFB (German Football Association) 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.’
“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.
“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.
“This is not why I play football, and I will not sit back and do nothing about it. Racism should never, ever be accepted.
“I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.
“I will no longer stand for being a scapegoat for his incompetence and inability to do his job properly.
“Are there criteria for being fully German that I do not fit? My friend Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose are never referred to as German-Polish, so why am I German-Turkish? Is it because it is Turkey? Is it because I’m a Muslim?”
In response to this, reactions has come from different elites to voice their opinion on Ozil’s statement.
Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel “respects” his decision as he has done much for the national side, as reported by her spokesperson on Monday.
State secretary in the German Interior Ministry Stephan Mayer, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Ozil was “naive” for thinking the picture was not political given it was just weeks before an election in Turkey. However he said the matter had been allowed to drag on much too long and had been poorly managed.
Germany’s Social Democrat Justice Minister Katarina Barley reacted by saying “It’s alarming if a great German football player like Mesut Ozil no longer feels wanted in his country.”
A senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats Thomas Bareiss, said it showed “disrespect” and was “misplaced”
And German daily Bild said Ozil was “revelling in the victim role that has nothing to do with reality”.
Much reaction has also come from Turkey especially showing support for the heart broken Mesut Oszil as expected. The members of Erdogan’s government in Turkey said: “I congratulate Mesut Ozil who by leaving the national team has scored the most beautiful goal against the virus of fascism,” Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said.
And sports minister Turkey, Mehmet Kasapoglu has also shown his support by saying Ozil had taken an “honourable stance” by voicing out and expressing his feelings.
The 29-year-old went further to explain much of how Turkey means to him and his family and how the picture with Erdogan happened.
Looking more into the statement, Ozil went further and wrote: “Like many people, my ancestry traces back to more than one country. Whilst I grew up in Germany, my family background has its roots firmly based in Turkey. I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish.
“In may, I met President Erdogan in London, during a charitable and educational event. We first met in 2010 after he and Angela Merkel watched the Germany vs Turkey match together in Berlin.
“Since then, our paths have crossed a lot of times around the globe. I’m aware that the picture of us caused a huge response in the German media, and whilst some people may accuse me of lying or being deceitful, the picture we took had no political intentions.
“For me, having a picture with President Erdogan wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country. My job is a football player and not a politician, and out meeting was not an endorsement of any policies.
“Although the German media have portrayed something different, the truth is that not meeting with the President would have been disrespecting the roots of my ancestors, who I know would be proud of where I am today.’
Mezut Ozil released a further statement, showing how displeased he is with ‘right-wing media’ claiming they had used his meetings with the Turkish president to strengthen their political message and believes he had been made “a target” due to his foreign ancestry.
He also revealed that a scheduled trip to his former school along with two of his charitable partners was cancelled on short notice after they told him they no longer wanted to work alongside him.
He wrote: “Certain Germany newspaper are using my background and photo with President Erdogan as right-wing propaganda to further their political cause. Why else did they use pictures and headlines with my name as a direct explanation for defeat in Russia?
“They didn’t criticize my performance, they didn’t criticize the team’s performances, they just criticized my Turkish ancestry and respect for my upbringing.’
Ozil returned to his club on Sunday after completing his holiday quick enough due to Germany’s early World cup exit as he made the journey to Singapore with his team, where they will play several pre-season fixtures.
Arsenal is set to begin their 2018/2019 Premier League campaign with new coach Unai Emery taking charge of his first competitive game against the current premier league champions Manchester City on August 13, and Mesut Ozil is expected to be fully fit for this game, an advantage that could be gotten from early world cup exit.