Ozil retires from international football after fan backlash over Erdogan photo

Ozil retires from international football after fan backlash over Erdogan photo

- The Arsenal attacker has been a Germany international since 2009

- Ozil said his decision stemmed out of the disrespect and racisom condoned by German media

Mesut Özil, the famed Deutsch footballer, has made public his resolve his retirement from international football with immediate effect, hitting out at what he described as unfair discrimination that came with his meeting with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May 2018.

Özil was part of the Germany squad that exited the World Cup in Russia at the group stage and was the object of criticism for his performances as well as his meeting with Erdogan, who has been accused of human rights abuses, the Guardian reports.

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The Arsenal midfielder of Turkish origin has defended his actions in a lengthy statement, attacking the German football federation (DFB).

He said: “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,” Özil wrote on Twitter. “My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies.

“The treatment I have received from the DFB and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt. I feel unwanted and think what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.”

Referring directly to Reinhard Grindel, president of the DFB, Özil further said: “People with racially discriminative backgrounds should not be allowed to work in the largest football federation in the world that has players from dual‑heritage families.

"Attitudes like theirs simply do not reflect the players they supposedly represent. 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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“It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events, I will no longer be playing for Germany while 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 29 year-old has played for Germany since 2009.

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