Mesut Özil has announced his retirement from the German squad, citing “racism” and a lack of support after the elimination of the national team in the first round of the 2018 World Cup.
“It is with a heavy heart and a lot of thought that, because of recent events, I will not play international matches for Germany as long as I feel racism and disrespect for me,” writes the player of Turkish origin on his Twitter account.
Criticised for a photo taken with Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan before the Russian World Cup, he assured that the photograph had “no political intent.”
This earned both players serious criticism, especially after the early elimination of the 2014 world champions from the group stage in Russia.
Some observers have accused them of lacking loyalty to Germany, team manager Oliver Bierhoff even going so far as to say that “it would have been necessary to consider doing without Ozil” for the World Cup.
“In the last two months, what has hurt me the most is the ill-treatment of the DFB and its president Richard Grindel.”
“While I tried to explain to Grindel my heritage, my ancestors and, therefore, make him understand the reasons that led me to take this picture, he was more interested in talking about his own positions and lower my opinion,” wrote Ozil, who scored 23 goals in 92 caps.
“I will no longer serve as a scapegoat [to Grindel] for his incompetence and inability to do his job properly,” concluded the 29-year-old, crowned world champion with Germany in 2014 after third place in 2010.
“Like many people, my ancestral roots span more than one country. I certainly grew up in Germany, but my family history has its roots firmly in Turkey. I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish,” said the Arsenal midfielder on Twitter on Sunday.