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Mesut Ozil has announced his retirement from international football, hitting out at the “racist” and “disrespectful” treatment he received in the wake of his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Germany’s early World Cup exit.

The Arsenal star, who has Turkish ancestry, made the announcement on Sunday in a lengthy statement he posted on his Twitter account.

The 29-year-old attacking midfielder, who was part of the German squad that exited the 2018 World Cup at the group stage, felt he was singled out as a scapegoat for the failure due to his Turkish heritage and the Erdogan meeting in May.

“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,” Ozil said.

“The treatment I have received from the DFB [German Football Association] and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt,” he added.

“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.”

Ozil said he could not accept “German media outlets repeatedly blaming my dual-heritage and a simple picture for a bad World Cup on behalf of an entire squad”.

He added: “I am German when we win, but an immigrant when we lose.”

Ozil earned 92 caps for Germany since his debut in 2009. He was a key member of the country’s 2014 World Cup-winning side.

“This decision has been extremely difficult to make because I’ve always given everything for my teammates … but when high-ranking DFB officials treat me as they did, disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into political propaganda, then enough is enough,” he wrote.

“That is not why I play football, and I will not sit back and do nothing about it. Racism should never, ever, be accepted.”

Ozil drew criticism at home after his meeting in Erdogan. He and Ilkay Gundogan – a teammate also of Turkish descent who likewise posed with Erdogan – were jeered in warm-up games before the World Cup in Russia.

In his statement on Sunday, Ozil said if he had not met the Turkish president, he would have been “disrespecting the roots of my ancestors”.

“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,” he said.

The Arsenal midfielder also said that he was loyal to both his Turkish and German origins and insisted he did not intend to make a political statement.

“Like many people, my ancestry traces back to more than one country. Whilst I grew up in Germany, my family background has its roots firmly based in Turkey,” he said. “I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish.”

Relations between Germany and Turkey have soured amid a crackdown by Erdogan’s government on suspected supporters of a failed military coup in July 2016.

“My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies,” Ozil said.

“I get that this may be hard to understand, as in most cultures the political leader cannot be thought of as being separate from the person. But in this case it is different. Whatever the outcome would’ve been in this previous election, or the election before that, I would have still taken the picture.”

SPORT

Kanu Nwankwo Weeps, As Vandals Steal All His Career Medals; Hotel Taken Over By Unknown Persons

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Legendary Nigerian Footballer and Olympic Gold Captain, Nwankwo Kanu is not a happy man right now after losing his football medals and several valuables.

The Atlanta ’96 Olympic gold winner has revealed how suspected vandals invaded his The Hardley Apartments situated along Waziri Ibrahim Crescent on Victoria Island, making away with his football medals, trophies, plaques and other valuable items.

The hotel has been sealed up since 2015 sequel to an alleged default in transaction between it and Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank), leading to series of litigation that is still pending at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos. The last hearing came up in November last year after which the case was adjourned till 31 January 2019.

But a shocked Kanu, who was in London for the Yuletide, learnt from relatives and business associates in Nigeria last week that the Apartments, with registration number 509102, had been occupied by some authorized persons who had also commenced renovation of the facility in disregard of the seal order and litigation, forcing him to arrive in Nigeria over the weekend to verify the claims.

“It was a rude shock to me,” Kanu, who fought back tears at what the hitherto sprawling facility had become since the renovation started, told TheCable.

“I almost couldn’t recognise the hotel as belonging to me anymore. This is the saddest day of my life as I cannot understand why this happen to me when the matter has yet to be settled in court.

“All the medals I have earned, in addition to the Olympic torch that I cherished are all gone and I don’t even know who to ask for all these prized assets.”

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SPORT

Mohamed Salah Crowned African Player Of The Year For Second Straight Year

Peter Okunoren

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Mohamed Salah of Egypt is the African Player of the Year 2018, for the second time in a row, it was announced in Dakar, Senegal Tuesday night.

He beat two other competitors shortlisted with him, Liverpool team mate Sadio Mane and Arsenal striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang of Arsenal.

“I have dreamt of winning this award since I was a child and now I have done so twice in a row,” Salah said soon after receiving his trophy.

“My thanks go to my family, my team-mates and my fans and I dedicate this trophy to my homeland, Egypt.”

It was an identical outcome to last year when Salah became only the second Egyptian after 1983 winner Mahmoud al Khatib to be voted the best footballer in Africa.

Chrestinah Thembi Kgatlana of South Africa was crowned African Women’s Player of the Year 2018 at the Aiteo-CAF awards, while Nigeria’s female team won Women’s National Team of the Year.

Achraf Hakimi was named African Youth Player of the Year 2018.

Mo Salah was also not surprisingly named among Africa’s Best X1 players that did not include any Nigerian.

Other players are Aubameyang, Mane, Mahrez, Keita, Partey, Koulibaly, Bailly, Benatia and Aurier.

Onyango as the goalkeeper completed the Africa Eleven.

Mauritania are the Men’s national Team of the Year.

The coaches were also recognised with Herve Renard winning Men’s coach of the Year and Desiree Ellis, coach of the Bayana Bayana, winning Women’s Coach of the Year. (NAN)

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: Buhari Orders Prosecution Of Amaju Pinnick Over NFF Multi-Billion Alleged Fraud, Banned From Traveling

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President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the prosecution of the President of the Nigerian Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, over an alleged multi-billion scam in the organisation.

It was also learnt that the Federal Government through the Presidential investigative panel headed by Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, had placed Pinnick on travel ban.

Our correspondent gathered on Saturday that Buhari gave the order for Pinnick’s prosecution when the Obono-Obla presented a preliminary investigation report to him.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission also addressed a report on the NFF to Mr President detailing the outcome of their investigations which tallied with what Obono-Obla’s panel had submitted to the President.

EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu had in his six-page report informed Buhari that the anti-graft agency had investigated and prosecuted the Director, Finance and Administration, Christopher Andekin; Head, Finance and Administration, NFF, Jafaru Mamzah and a cashier with the Finance and Administration department of the NFF, Rajan Zaka over an alleged financial scam in the football governing house in connection with financial payments from Federation of International Football Associations and Confederation of African Football to NFF between 2014 and 2016.

But Buhari who was said to have been visibly angry over the alleged monumental scam ordered Pinnick to also be prosecuted. He directed Magu to embark on a wider investigation into the remittances to the
NFF between 2017 and 2018.

The president, who was reportedly shocked by the mind-boggling report and additional revelations directed Magu to ensure a comprehensive and discreet investigation with watertight and unassailable facts and
pieces of evidence that would nail the suspects at the court.

According to the EFCC preliminary report, EFCC stated that it commenced full investigation into the finances of the NFF where it discovered that the domiciliary accounts of the NFF domiciled with two top nigerian banks had received total inflow of $16,417,761 from FIFA and CAF between January, 2014 and June, 2016.

Magu in the report also informed Buhari that investigation into the case had been concluded. He added that Christopher Andekin; Head, Finance and Administration, NFF, Jafaru Mamzah and a cashier with the Finance and Administration department of NFF, Rajan Zaka were indicted and arraigned on October 15, 2018 before Justice P.O. Affem of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, No 19 Maitama Abuja on five criminal charges of conspiracy and criminal breach of trust by a public officer.

The EFCC’s boss further informed Buhari that the commission also received another petition dated April 24, 2016 captioned ‘Monumental stealing and financial crisis in the Nigeria Football Federation’, from James Peters of Amal Pepple Estate, Abuja.

He stated that in the course of investigation, the Minister (Sports) forwarded to the commission, documents in support of the petition revealing sponsorship deals amounting to N1.14bn and $1.55m via his letter No. HMY &SP/003/2018/55 dates August 7, 2018.

Magu said, “Investigation into this petition has so far established that the NFF has sponsorship deals with 21 corporate organisation. The investigation further revealed that between 2008 and 2018, 11 out of the 21 corporate organisations made sponsorship payment of N5,288,990,000 and $1,550,000 to NFF as against the amounted stated in the ministers’ letter under reference above.

“One of the companies appointed as financial consultant to the NFF is owned by the 2nd Vice President of the NFF in person of Alhaji Shehu Dikko. The audit trail of the funds and its utilisation is currently ongoing with a view to prosecuting anyone found culpable of any offence.”

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