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.”
AFCON 2019 QUALIFIER: Ahmed Musa, Ighalo, Awaziem Shoots Eagles To Victory Over Seychelles
Goals from Skipper Ahmed Musa, Chidozie Awaziem and Odion Jude Ighalo were all the Super Eagles needed to revive their hopes of qualifying for the 2019 African Cup of Nations slated to hold in Cameroon.
Gernot Rohr opted for the trio of Ighalo, Musa and Iheanacho to lead the team’s attack, while debutant Samuel Kalu, Wilfried Ndidi and Ogenyi Onazi were saddled with the midfield role.
The Nigerian side, who started the game on the front foot, broke the hosts’ resistance through Musa’s streamer, which beat Collins Esther after 15 minutes from kick off.
Portugal-based Awaziem doubled the lead from a tap in the 34th minute of the tie.
On resumption for the second half, Nigeria kept piling pressure on The Pirates of Seychelles.
They kept the momentum until Kalu was infringed on in the box and the referee awarded a spot kick to Nigeria.
Ighalo stepped up to convert the kick in the 57th minute as Nigeria maintained a comfortable lead.
Nigeria now has three points from two games in the qualifiers.
Messi Hails Ronaldo, Tips Juventus To Win Champions League Trophy
Barcelona ace, Lionel Messi has said that Juventus are clear favourites to win this season’s UEFA Champions League now that they have forward, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo left Madrid as their all-time highest goalscorer to join the Italian giants earlier this summer in a 100-million-euro deal.
Messi believes that Madrid is less strong without Ronaldo, adding that he was surprised by the Portuguese’s decision to leave the Santiago Bernabeu to joined Juve.
“Real Madrid is less strong without Cristiano Ronaldo in their squad, as obviously, he is one of the best in the world,” Messi told Catalunya Radio.
“Juventus are a clear favourite to win the Champions League now they have Cristiano Ronaldo. I was surprised by his decision, as I didn’t expect him to leave Madrid or go to Juventus. It’s a very good team.”
Messi added, “We’ve gone out in the quarter-finals for three years running and the last one was the most painful for the way it came about. We have to aim for the trophy because we can do it.
“We missed out because of details, in the Pep Guardiola era against Inter, and Chelsea. Other clubs are strong, have a lot of money and sign many players, like the two Manchesters, Chelsea, Real Madrid, PSG, various Italian clubs, they all have a lot of money.
“Plus when things don’t go our way, we struggle to react, as we did against Roma. We did not react the right way during the game.”
Nigeria vs Seychelles: Why I Invited Ighalo – Rohr
Despite criticism in some quarters over the inclusion of Odion Ighalo in the 28 players invited to prosecute the country’s September 7 Africa Cup of Nations’ qualifier against Seychelles in Victoria, Head Coach Gernot Rohr, has appeared unperturbed.
The German tactician has rather stuck to his decision as the national team gets set to open its camp in Abuja before jetting out for the September 7, away clash.
He noted that though Ighalo who last scored for the Eagles a year ago against Cameroon in Uyo, missed begging chances against Argentina in Russia which failed to impress some of the fans, he nonetheless deserves another opportunity to make amends.
He insisted that Ighalo still has a role to play in his formation to secure the maximum 3 point in the crucial duel adding that “this is an opportunity for him(Ighalo) prove his critics wrong.”
Rohr continued, “He has been scoring in China and he is very motivated to do so for the Super Eagles now.”
On Sunday, the 29-year-old striker scored his 16th goal in the Chinese Super League. The Nigerian international emerged the hero of Changchun Yatai after he scored the equaliser to make sure they didn’t lose at home to Hebei CFFC in a game which ended 2-2.
The former Watford striker who scored 15 goals for Changchun Yatai last season put a smile on the faces of Changchun Yatai fans as he scored in the 89th minute to level the goal margin.
A breakdown of the 28-man squad released on Friday showed that 24 players were listed as regulars, while four players were listed as stand-by, comprising Uche Agbo who plays for Standard Liege, Belgium, Eze Stephen who stars with Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Musa Mohammed starring for Hnk Gorica, Croatia and Blessing Eleke.
The 24 invited players are goalkeepers Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba FC) and Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa).
Eight defenders were invited including Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Semi Ajayi (Rotterdam United, England); Bryan Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion, England); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain) and Jamilu Collins (SC Paderborn 07, Germany).
Rohr picked six midfielders comprising Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor FC, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC, England); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Kelechi Nwakali (FC Porto, Portugal) and Joel Obi (AC Chievo Verona, Italy)
Ahmed Musa (Al Nassar FC, Saudi Arabia) leads the list of strikers which include Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Simeon Nwankwo (Crotone FC, Italy); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray SK, Turkey); Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai, China); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England) and Samuel Kalu (Bordeaux FC, France).
Team Administrator Dayo Enebi Achor revealed on Friday that the invited players are expected to fly directly to Seychelles, arriving on Monday, 3rd September, while the one player (goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa) and team officials travelling from Nigeria will fly into Victoria on Sunday, 2nd September.
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