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Turkish President Voices His Support For Mesut Ozil

Turkish President Voices His Support For Mesut Ozil
By Gavin Cooney Updated

Mesut Ozil's resignation from international football is proving to be one of the most contentious sporting stories of the summer. After a miserable World Cup, Ozil this week announced that he was stepping away from the German national team citing "racism and disrespect".

The story begins earlier this year, when Ozil was widely condemned in Germany for meeting with Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan while Erdogan was in London.

Given Erdogan's, er, allergy to democracy and press freedom, Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan were harshly criticised in their homeland. Ozil has since said that he agreed to meet Erdogan out of respect for the highest office of his parents' country, saying that  "it didn't matter who was President, it mattered that it was the President".

Amid the tumult of criticism, Ozil said that he felt he was mistreated by the German Federation.

Whilst I attempted to explain to [President] Grindel my heritage, ancestry and therefore reasoning behind the photo, he was far more interested in speaking about his own political views and belittling my opinion....

....In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose. This is because despite paying taxes in Germany, donating facilities to German schools and winning the World Cup with Germany in 2014, I am still not accepted into society. I am treated as being 'different'....

... will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst 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.

Ozil's line that "I am German when we win, but I am immigrant when we lose" invokes a line from Albert Einstein from a 1922 speech in Paris:

If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew.

Germany's attitude to immigration and immigrants is a roiling issue at the moment, with Angela Merkel recently forced into agreeing to screening at the Germany/Austria border in order to prevent the collapse of her coalition government. The fact that Ozil met with the Turkish president is of some import too, as he did so just prior to elections which allows Turkish citizens vote in spite of living abroad.

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Amid the fallout to Ozil's lengthy statement, Erdogan has issued his support to Ozil.

On Monday night I spoke to Mesut. His attitude in the statement is completely patriotic.

It is not possible to accept this kind of racist attitude towards a young man who poured so much sweat for the German national team's success. This cannot be tolerated.

The Turkish Football Federation also offered their support to Ozil.

We condemn the treatment, threats and derogatory messages that Ozil has received because of his heritage and background.

Every player, no matter whether they are in the public eye or not, has a right to be protected from abuse, discrimination and messages expressing hate.

See Also: Ex-Celtic Player Reveals Aiden McGeady And Artur Boruc Despised Each Other


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