Amidst all the political tension, 2014 FIFA World Cup winner Mesut Ozil decided to retire from international football on Sunday, a month-and-a-half after his photo with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sparked a controversy.
Ozil, who has been 92 German caps thus far, was voted as the German player of the year five times in his career (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016), and took to social media in announcing his retirement from the 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. I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement but now I don’t,” the Arsenal star said.
“This decision has been extremely difficult to make because I have always given everything for my teammates, the coaching staff and the good people of Germany. But when high-ranking officials of the DFB (the German football federation) treat me as they did, disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into a political propaganda, then enough is enough.”0
“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,” Ozil added.
The 29-year-old also slammed DFB president Reinhard Grindel, who he accused of trying to benefit his own political views. He also accused the DFB president of racism.
“I know that Grindel wanted me out the team after the picture, and publicised his view on Twitter without any thinking or consultation, but Low and (director) Oliver Bierhoff stood up for me and backed me,” he revealed.
“In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.”
Low decided to keep both players on his 2018 FIFA World Cup squad even though fans raised doubts about Ozil’s loyalty to the German national team. The controversy haunted both players during the World Cup and Germany’s early exit from the tournament added fuel to the fire.
“Are there criteria for being fully German that I do not fit?” Ozil asked.
“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?”
Having said that, his fans had a meltdown on Twitter and this is how they reacted:
— FAYE2117 ???? (@faye2117) July 22, 2018
#StandWithOEzil Congratulations Özil… Ozil said no to racism and no to Germans. Don’t forget , he is Turkish.
— adem bayraktar (@adembayraktar) July 23, 2018
— Nana ?? BTS World Tour (@friendlyjiminie) July 23, 2018
“Racism should never, ever be accepted” yess yesss yesss we all respect and support you ?????????? grettings from Kosova ??????
— Diana – CC1 ?? (@DianaAlidema) July 23, 2018
They will never replace Mesut Ozil
— NGEN0254 (@HillaryNgeno_) July 23, 2018
Its 2018 and racism still exists. @MesutOzil1088 you did good coming out…Well done.
— Nderitu Muriithi (@Ndeshmo) July 23, 2018
I thought football fans as decent admirers but the way German fans discredited @MesutOzil1088 for German defeat in the world cup is highly condemnable. A nation which hosts a huge majority of immigrants must not be so mean.#MesutOzil #StandWithOzil#SayNoToRacism pic.twitter.com/pW59J1T9VJ
— Naveed Alam (@Muhammad_12155) July 23, 2018
Dear Mr Özil, stop playing the racism card on this matter. You have showed allegiance to a dictator from Turkey, therefor this an political matter, perhaps religious. Politics and religion have nothing to do with race so stop crying. Thanks. Selam.
— Rob Leeuw (@RJLeeuw) July 23, 2018
I respect you more and more after reading this. #NoToRacism
— Gbenga Adeyinka 1st (@gbengaadeyinka) July 23, 2018
Unfortunately Ozil’s critics will just double down instead of accepting they’re wrong because they actually don’t have sense.
— Arsenio. (@Fattcheeked) July 22, 2018
Arsenal need to arrange a solidarity shirt for Ozil. He must really be feeling low. A public show of support will boost his moral. Long live king Ozil.
— Nameless (@Uber_Gooner) July 22, 2018
The media villifying Ozil just goes to show how immigrants almost need to keep earning their citizenship long after they have it.
These countries only assimilate you as long as you bring honour.
— Tugen Girl (@tugengirl) July 22, 2018
What really makes this so stupid is that the bigots win. They’ve finally gotten rid of Ozil. Him being in that team was so irritating to them and their conception of German identity, and now he’s been forced to retire because the environment has become unbearable.
— Zito (@_Zeets) July 22, 2018
It’s good to stand up against racism. You won’t be playing for Germany any more but you are a good player and an even better person. Although you play in a rival club, your skills as a player and your service for the society has always been remarkable. Stay strong mesut.
— Anupam Sarma (@Anupamxarma) July 23, 2018
This is an epic racism lesson to Germans. This letter will be read through out the history. This will waken up some Germans at least about how nazism and racism still breeds in German institutions and society
— Ahmet Hamdi Sisman (@trtbreaking) July 23, 2018
Sad end for a phenomenal player.. Germany’s loss Arsenal’s gain.. hope he transforms the anger to on field performances for arsenal
— Sudarshan Mohan (@sudarshan1331) July 23, 2018
It’s their loss Mesut, you will always be fantastic, we adore you here at Arsenal
— Vinay C.P (@Vinay_Arsenal) July 23, 2018