Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has become one of the most divisive figures in Germany over the past month or so. After being pictured with controversial Turkish president Erdogan before the World Cup, there was already ill feeling building towards the player, and with Germany's shock exit from Russia in the group stages Ozil has become a scapegoat for Die Mannschaft's failure.
In response to this Ozil has announced his retirement from international football , citing racism and disrespect as the reasons for his decision:
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 while I have this feeling of racism and disrespect.
I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don't. I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.
I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.
Ozil also defended the picture with Erdogan stating that the incident was not "about politics or elections", but rather "respecting the highest office" of his family's country.
Ozil Mundur: Diawali Erdogan, Diperparah DFB https://t.co/FH727ziK6c pic.twitter.com/wY34N9lqWE
— PanditFootball.com (@panditfootball) July 23, 2018
It's fair to say that Ozil's statement has not gone down well with Bayern president Uli Hoeness, who launched a vitriolic attack on the World Cup winner during an interview with SportBild:
Ozil has been playing shit for years. He won his last tackle before the 2014 World Cup. All he is doing on the field is playing cross passes. Now he hides himself and his crap performance behind this photo.
No one questioned he was playing crap at the World Cup. His 35 million follower boys, who of course do not exist in the real world, all think that he has played excellently if he plays a cross pass.
Whenever we played against Arsenal, we played on him because we knew he was the weak point.
Whatever Hoeness' feelings about the midfielder, it was hardly appropriate of man in his position to make such inflammatory comments about Ozil and his broadside will only serve to stir up even more hate towards the player.
It certainly feels like Ozil is being perceived as one of the main reasons for Germany's failure in Russia, despite the Arsenal man being the main creative force for a misfiring team.
5.5 - @MesutOzil1088 created more chances per 90 minutes than any other player at the 2018 World Cup (minimum 90 minutes played). Tackled. pic.twitter.com/IQTGWqba9Q
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 23, 2018