“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. I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don’t. I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.”
Mesut Özil has declared his retirement from international football after posting a statement on his Twitter account, with the midfielder pointing out at what he felt to be unfair discrimination circling his meeting with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in May.
Özil was part of the Germany squad that left the 2018 World Cup Russia just before the knockout stages and was the focal point of criticism for his performances combined with his meeting with Erdogan, who has been implicated of human rights abuses.
The Arsenal player has Turkish roots and defended his actions in a lengthy statement and one in which he projected an attack on the German Football Federation (DFB). Özil said, “For me, having a picture with For me, having a picture with President Erdoğan wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country.”
“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.”
Özil’s statement added one directed to Reinhard Grindel, president of the DFB, saying that people with racially discriminative backgrounds should not be permitted to work in the largest football federation in the world. Moreover, Germany has players from dual-heritage families, and such actions should not be tolerated as it does not reflect the players they supposedly represent.
In a three-part statement published on Sunday evening, Özil included his disappointment in Grindel. “I will no longer stand for being a scapegoat for his incompetence and inability to do his job properly,” the 2014 World Cup champion wrote.
“But when high-ranking DFB officials disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into political propaganda, then enough is enough.”
“They all represent a Germany of the past, a Germany that I am not proud of. I am confident that many proud Germans who embrace an open society would agree with me.”