Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has branded as “completely unacceptable” the alleged racism which has forced Mesut Ozil to retire from international duty with Germany.
The Arsenal midfielder accused the German Football Association (DFB) of “racism and disrespect” as he announced he was quitting on Sunday.
Ozil, who is a muslim and has Turkish heritage, also revealed he and his family had received hate mail, threatening phone calls and social media abuse following Germany’s poor World Cup campaign.
The controversy surrounding Ozil had started prior to the tournament in Russia when he and Germany team-mate Ilkay Gundogan were pictured meeting Erdogan.
Quoted in Turkish newspaper Sabah, Erdogan said: “Such a racist approach, due to his religion, towards a young person who gave everything for the German national team, contributing to its successes, was completely unacceptable.”
The president of the Turkish Football Federation, Yildirim Demiroren, has also spoken out in support of Ozil.
Demiroren told the federation’s website, tff.org: “I condemn the treatment, the threats and the humiliating messages that have been sent to him because of his origins.
“Every player should be protected against messages of humiliation, discrimination and hate.
“All members of the international football community should unite in destroying racism and intolerance – it must continue to fight tirelessly.”
Ozil, 29, has won 92 Germany caps and was a member of the World Cup-winning squad of 2014.
He was criticised by figures within the DFB and the media after the photograph of his meeting with Erdogan in London emerged. Further criticism followed after Germany were eliminated at the group stage in Russia.
Ozil said in a statement: “The treatment I have received from the DFB and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt. I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level while I have this feeling of racism and disrespect.”
The DFB has expressed regret over how the matter has unfolded but categorically denied any allegations of racism.
A statement read: “For many years, the DFB has been heavily involved in integration work in Germany. The DFB stands for diversity, from the representatives at the top to the countless, day-by-day dedicated people at the base.
“The DFB regrets the departure of Mesut Ozil from the national team. However, this does not change the determination of the association to continue the successful integration work consistently and with deep conviction.”
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