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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.”

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BREAKING: Lionel Messi Agrees Two-Year PSG Deal

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Former FC Barcelona skipper, Lionel Messi, has finally reached an agreement with Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent.

Following the Argentine’s failure to reach an agreement on a new deal with the Catalan mega-club after a meeting last Thursday, there have been rumours linking the 34-year-old to PSG.

Messi, at the Sunday press conference, confirmed a move to PSG as a “possibility”.

The contract with PSG will keep Messi at the Parisian club until June 2023, with the option of extending the contract until 2024, according to SkySports.

Messi will receive €25m net per season as a guaranteed salary plus add-ons, with his potential total salary around €35m per season.

Paris Saint-Germain is set to unveil Messi as a PSG player in a few hours, per Fabrizio Romano.

Since the announcement of Messi’s departure from the Catalan club, there has been a frenzy in the French capital.

Hundreds of fans swarmed the gates of the Le Bourget airport on Sunday night after reports that Lionel Messi was due to land in the French capital.

As of now, PSG has not officially announced the signing.

Details later…

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Siasia Sues FIFA Over Ban, Demands Refund Of $54k Fine

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Samson Siasia, a former Super Eagles player and coach, has sued FIFA over the federation’s earlier decision to hand him a life ban from all football-related activities.

In 2019, FIFA had found Siasia “guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches”.

The world football governing body had said the offense violated its code of ethics while the ban was also accompanied by a 50,000 Swiss francs ($54,000) fine.

On June 21, the sanction was however reduced to a five-year ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).

The court had also ruled that the life ban handed to the Nigerian was “disproportionate” to the offense he was said to have committed.

But in a dramatic twist, Siasia filed a suit at a federal court in New York on Monday, challenging his initial conviction by FIFA.

In the suit filed through Nitor V. Egbarin, his counsel, the coach, who is also a US citizen, claimed his conviction by FIFA was a breach of his constitutional rights.

The football gaffer also contended that the federation lacked the powers to sanction him, adding that only the United States has the legal backing to charge him for the bribery offense.

Buttressing his point in the suit, Siasia argued that FIFA had relied on the Swiss bribery law to effect his conviction, adding that “Georgia does not criminalize commercial bribery.”

“In convicting Siasia of bribery, FIFA relied on Swiss bribery law. If any crime was committed, only the FBI or Georgia State Police could investigate and bring charges of commercial bribery,” the suit partly read.

Siasia also claimed that FIFA did not follow due process in its investigation into the allegations against him before his eventual conviction for bribery.

“Siasia was not aware of the bribery charge for which that FIFA indicted him until FIFA published to the whole world in or around Aug. 16, 2019, FIFA’s conviction and imposition of a life ban on Siasia from using the coach license issued under the laws of the United States,” the suit added.

He said that FIFA’s fine and the decision to revoke his license constituted “cruel and unusual punishment” which, he claimed, “violated provisions of the eighth amendment of the US law.”

In the suit, Siasia demanded among others, the overturning of his earlier conviction, a refund of the 50,000 Swiss francs ($54,000) fine handed to him, and a reversal of his five-year coaching ban.

The former Nigerian international also demanded that FIFA pays him damages for allegedly violating his civil rights and bringing his reputation into disrepute.

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Siasia’s Claim Of Being Abandoned Untrue and Deceitful; FG, Governors Raised Money For Him To Fight FIFA Ban — Sunday Dare

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Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, Tuesday, insisted that his ministry did not abandon former Super Eagles coach Samson Siasia as being claimed by the former striker.

Siasia had claimed that he was abandoned by Dare and the ministry after his FIFA ban for alleged match-fixing.

John Joshua-Akanji, Special Adviser (Media) to the minister said in a statement in Abuja that contrary to insinuations by Siasia that he was abandoned, the minister actually raised money for him.

He added that the Minister responded positively by taking the matter of his plight to the attention of individuals and organizations to intervene.

“The ministry, through the Minister, was able to raise the money which Siasia personally collected while he was also connected to persons and entities who raised money to assist him in appealing his case at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).

“In response to a concerted appeal launched by the Minister, the Governors of Lagos, Edo and Delta made available money which was handed over to Siasia at different times.

“A couple of individuals, at the instance of the Minister, also raised money which was handed to him in cash,” Joshua-Akanji said.

He said the minister also rallied around to ensure Siasia was given a fair hearing.

“The Minister stayed on top of the case by pulling all strings to assist Siasia.

“In addition to the governors of Edo, Delta, and Lagos, he (Dare) made an appeal to Gov. Kayode Fayemi who is the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Ekiti State Governor.

“In another instance, the Minister took Siasia on a visit to the then Bayelsa Governor, Seriake Dickson, to appeal for support for him.

“Siasia’s claim that government did nothing to assist him is untrue, deceitful, and misleading.

“While there are no budgetary provisions for such incidents, the Ministry and the Office of the Minister gave Siasia all the support that led to the mitigation of his life ban from football-related activities,” Joshua-Akanji added.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Siasia had recently claimed that he did not get the necessary support from certain groups, except a few friends and governors.

He listed these groups as the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), and other stakeholders.

CAS recently upturned Siasia’s life ban by FIFA to five years, after he filed an appeal at the global sports court.

(NAN)

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