Germany’s football association (DFB) has “vehemently” rejected allegations of racism following the announcement by Mesut Ozil that he has decided to quit the Germany national team, citing racism.
Ozil made the announcement on Sunday, lashing out at the president of the DFB for the reaction to Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan posing for a photo with Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the Turkish President’s visit to London back 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 wrote on social media. “I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don’t.”
Following Ozil’s announcement, Kick It Out released the following:
“Following Germany’s exit from the World Cup, the racist treatment Mesut Ozil has faced by elements of their media, supporters and wider society is extremely disappointing — but is also reflective of the experience of a number of footballers across Europe from mixed heritage backgrounds.
“Mesut Ozil has been treated disgracefully and we have contacted Arsenal to offer our support to him at this time. Those who have driven him to consider international retirement should be ashamed of themselves and his case should encourage all of football to reflect on how the game treats footballers from mixed heritage backgrounds.”
The DFB said it “regrets the departure of Mesut Ozil from the national team” and remain “very thankful for his outstanding performances in the Germany national team shirt.”
Their official statement said:
“We vehemently reject, however — fundamentally in view of our representatives, colleagues, clubs and the efforts of millions of volunteers — that the DFB is being linked with racism.
“Diversity is a strength, not only in football. This is why our work on integration at all levels has been of paramount importance. Right from amateur levels through to the national team, female and male players with a background of immigration belong in the DFB. We play and live together with our different family roots, our religions and cultures. What must unite us all on and off the field is respecting the human rights which are anchored in the constitution, advocating freedom of opinion and press, as well as respect, tolerance and fair play. Acknowledgement of these fundamental values is necessary for every player, male or female, who plays for Germany.
“The pictures with the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan therefore raised questions for many people in Germany. We are self-critical enough to admit that the DFB also contributed to this with the way we dealt with the issue, and we very much regret that Mesut Ozil felt that he was not given sufficient protection, as had been the case with Jerome Boateng, when he became the victim of racist insults. It was important, however, that Mesut Ozil, as Ilkay Gundogan before him, gives answers about this photo, regardless of the way the tournament in Russia ended. In the DFB, we win and we lose together, as a team.
“The DFB would have been pleased had Mesut Ozil wanted to remain part of this team. He has decided differently. The DFB respects that and it is also part of our obligations as an association to act respectfully towards our worthy national team players and [this is why] we do not comment on some remarks, be it their tone or content, in public.
“The DFB regret Mesut Ozil’s retirement from the national team. That does not change, however, the determination the association has to continue to pursue, firmly and with deep conviction, its endeavours in successful integration work.”