Kevin-Prince Boateng has said he understands why Mesut Ozil withdrew from international competition amid growing tensions in German society and football “because I have been there.”
A German pundit said in 2009 that Boateng “was not able to be reintegrated into society” after a foul on Wolfsburg’s Makoto Hasebe, and after the Ballack incident, he was referred to as the “bad boy” of German football. Boateng switched allegiances to play for Ghana, the home country of his father, amid the backlash.
“To be honest, I was shocked, because I never expected it,” Boateng told Bild when asked about Ozil’s withdrawal. “I think that it was a stress reaction. I have been there.
“I know what’s it like when everyone has a go at you, when criticism is harsh, and your family is part of it. This drags you down and you can’t get on with your life.”
Boateng, the half-brother of Germany and Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng, was playing for AC Milan in January 2013 when he was subjected to racist abuse in a friendly at Pro Patria and led his team off pitch in protest. A few months later, he spoke at the United Nations about his actions.
Born in Berlin, Boateng was honoured for his fight against racism by WDR 1Live, one of Germany’s biggest radio stations, in December.
Ozil cited racism at the top of the German FA and in parts of the German society when he walked out on Germany in July following their worst World Cup in 80 years.
His statement is among several incidents connected to the country’s wider political landscape in recent weeks.
In the fourth-tier Regionalliga, Berliner AK, a club providing a home to players with a migratory background, fear their upcoming trip to Chemnitz.