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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

AFCON 2019: Nigeria Draws Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi [Full Fixtures]

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria have been drawn against Guinea, Madagascar, and Burundi in Group B of the African Cup of Nations, Egypt 2019.

The Gernot Rohr lads will begin their campaign at the the championship they won in South Africa i. 2013 against Burundi in the group opener.

In other groups, host Egypt will battle DR Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe in Group A, former champions Senegal and Algeria will have Kenya and giant killers Tanzania to slug it with in Group C.

Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire South Africa and Namibia were drawn in Group D which tagged as the competition Group of Death.

North African champions, Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania and Angola are up for Group E qualifying tickets.

Cameroon will also have Ghana, Benin and Guinea-Bissau to contend with Group F of the tournament.

Group A

Egypt
DR Congo
Uganda
Zimbabwe

Group B

Nigeria
Guinea
Madagascar
Burundi

Group C

Senegal
Algeria
Kenya
Tanzania

Group D

Morocco
Cote d’Ivoire
South Africa
Namibia

Group E

Tunisia
Mali
Mauritania
Angola

Group F

Cameroon
Ghana
Benin
Guinea-Bissau

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Give Me £500,000-A-Week And I’ll Snub Real Madrid —- Pogba Tells Man Utd

Peter Okunoren

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Manchester United are reportedly ready to open talks with Paul Pogba over a new contract, the UK Sun reports.

But the French midfielder is going to test Old Trafford chiefs desire to keep him, by demanding a total wage packet of £500,000-a-week.

It is believed Pogba wants parity as the club’s highest paid player with Alexis Sanchez, as the eye-watering deal handed to Sanchez 15 months ago, is coming back to bite executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward once again.

Sanchez’s huge contract has changed the game at United, especially given the struggles suffered by the South American since joining last January.

Pogba’s demands will be strengthened by public admissions from Real Madrid boss, Zinedine Zidane, that he would like his compatriot at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Pogba has two years left on his current £300,000-a-week deal, with a further 12-month option.

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Special Olympics World Games 2019: Union Bank, Special Olympics Nigeria Welcome Team Nigeria

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Union Bank, proud co-sponsors of Team Nigeria to the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, joined the Board and Members of Special Olympics (SO) Nigeria at a reception to welcome the team.

The 84-man delegationto the World Games was made up of 24 officials and 60 athletes who represented Nigeria in 8 sports categoriesincluding Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Football, Table-tennis, Volleyball, Swimming and Cycling, winning a total of 63 medals.

Speaking at thewelcome reception, Mrs. Ogochukwu Ekezie-Ekaidem, the Head of Corporate Communications and Marketing at Union Bank congratulated the athletes and commended their hard work, resilience and resolve. She also applauded the efforts anddedication of the officials who worked extensively withthe teams ahead of the competition.

According to her;

“Union Bank is proud of the longstanding relationship we have developed with Special Olympics Nigeria, a platform that is focused onthree areas we are passionate about – Talent development, Sports and Inclusion.

As an institution committed to enabling people succeed, we are inspired by the team’s performance at the recent World Games, a testament to their hard work, determination and resilience.”

Union Bank has been a consistent supporter of Special Olympics Nigeria and Sports in general. In 2015, the Bank sponsored Team Nigeria to the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. The Bank was also the official corporate sponsor of the Nigerian team to the last Olympic Games in Rio.

This partnership with Special Olympics Nigeria highlights Union Bank’s deep rooted support for inclusion and sports in Nigeria.

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