Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has decided to retire from international football. The midfielder claims he was harassed and received racial abuse in recent months. The events followed a controversial picture of Ozil taken with Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan.
Ozil issues statement about retirement
It was a heartfelt letter released to Twitter that put an end to Mesut Ozil’s international career. The Arsenal midfielder’s record includes 92 caps, 23 goals and World Cup trophy. All of these achieved by the age of 29.
Ozil claims that he was threatened and insulted by media and supporters before and, especially, after the 2018 World Cup tournament. Germany, the previous tournament winners, were knocked out of the tournament in the group stage. The midfielder says he was used as a scapegoat for the team’s lack of success.
Ozil was particularly offended by the way he was treated by the president of the German football federation. “Arguably the issue that has frustrated me the most over the past couple of months has been the mistreatment from the DFB, and in particular president Reinhard Grindel.”
The picture that ignited the controversy
The midfielder and teammate Ilkay Gundogan were photographed before the tournament with Turkey’s president Tayyip Erdoğan, a controversial gesture to some. Both players are of Turkish descent. Ozil says his gesture was simply meant to honor his roots, and not intended as a political endorsement.
The midfielder goes on to say that he offered a statement shortly after the incident. The DFB officials were have been informed about it. He says that the DFB president asked him again to explain himself after the World Cup. “But when high-ranking DFB officials treat me as they did, then enough is enough. That is not why I play football and I will not sit back and do nothing about it,” Ozil says.
The playmaker also claims that several sponsors retracted their support following the media frenzy.
“I was renounced by another partner,” Ozil said. “As they are also a sponsor of the DFB, I was asked to take part in promotional videos for the World Cup.”
“Yet after my picture with president Erdogan, they took me out of the campaigns and cancelled all promotional activities that were scheduled. For them, it was no longer good to be seen with me and called the situation ‘crisis management’,” Ozil clarified.
Since his debut in the national team, in 2009, Mesut Ozil has been an important starting player. He was one of the best players of the 2014 World Cup, when Germany won top honors. His performances in the 2018 tournament, were however relatively poor, which echoed those of his teammates.
Ozil says that throughout his experience with the German national team, he felt vilified when the team failed to deliver. “I am German when we win, an immigrant when we lose”.
The player is set to return to action with his Arsenal teammates, under the guidance of new manager, Unai Emery . Arsenal will start the season against current champions, Manchester City, on August 12th. All of the Premier League games will be hosted through FootballCoin contests.