Mesut Ozil announced his retirement from international football Sunday at the age of 29, citing racism and lashing out at the president of the German football federation.
he Arsenal midfielder finally broke his silence on the issue Sunday by posting a lengthy statement on social media insisting that he had done nothing wrong, before finally concluding that he was done playing for the German national team.
“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,” he wrote. “I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don’t.”
Born in Gelsenkirchen to Turkish parents, Ozil opted to play for Germany in November 2006 when invited by Turkey’s FA to take part in a friendly against Italy, saying that he did “not plan to take on Turkish citizenship.”
Ozil became a key player for Germany’s golden generation, starting by winning the 2009 Under-21 European Championships, as Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira, Benedikt Howedes and Ozil became a core group in the senior team that went on to win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Ozil made his senior debut for Germany in February 2009 and went on to become one of the stars of a revived German side at the 2010 World Cup, as the team finished third, starting in every match in South Africa.
He would then start in every game at a major tournament until Germany’s 2-1 win against Sweden at the 2018 World Cup, which came after a 1-0 defeat to Mexico in the opening game, amid the ongoing row over his willingness to integrate into German society.
Ozil on Sunday defended his part in the photo, saying it wasn’t about politics but about respecting the office of the presidency, adding that he believed his critics used the photo “as an opportunity to express their previously hidden racist tendencies.”
“I’m aware that the picture of us caused a huge response in German media, and whilst some people may accuse me of lying or being deceitful, the picture we took had no political intensions,” Ozil wrote. “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.”
Ozil said the “mistreatment from the DFB, and in particular” Grindel was the issue that “frustrated” him the most. He accused Grindel of being “far more interested in speaking of his own political views and belittling my opinion” and said the federation turned him into “political propaganda.”
“I will no longer stand for being a scapegoat for his incompetence and inability to do his job properly,” Ozil wrote. “I know that [Grindel] wanted me out the team after the picture, and publicised his view on Twitter without any thinking or consultation, but [coach] Joachim Low and [director] Oliver Bierhoff stood up for me and backed me.
“In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.”
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