The German Football Association (DFB) has admitted to “mistakes” in its handling of Mesut Özil after the Arsenal playmaker’s decision to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Two years after the incident, the DFB has said it could have handled the situation better and admitted it did not even meet with Özil for any talks.
“The DFB made mistakes in dealing with the events surrounding the Özil case,” general secretary Friedrich Curtis told the German Foundation on Integration.
DFB general secretary Friedrich Curtis has admitted that errors were made in the handling of a high-profile case with Özil being forced out in a disappointing manner.
“A photo became a magnifying glass for many topics.”
“The moment there were racist allegations, we missed the time to meet with the player.”
Özil, along with Manchester City midfielder and international team-mate Ilkay Gundogan, sparked controversy ahead of the tournament in Russia.
Ilkay Gundogan, Mesut Özil and Cenk Tosun welcomed Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to London. pic.twitter.com/aB3DqZqyF1
— City Chief (@City_Chief) May 14, 2018
He was pictured with Erdoğan on the eve of the tournament, with many of those in his homeland questioning his actions of a player with Turkish heritage.
Özil was made the victim for the struggles that 2014 world champions Germany then endured on the field, with Joachim Low’s side suffering a humbling group-stage exit when defending their 2014 title.
The picture caused outrage in Germany and ill-feeling towards Özil escalated as the defending champions failed to make it out of the World Cup group stages.
After the tournament, the player posted a number of letters on social media detailing the “racism and disrespect” he had suffered, resulting in him announcing his retirement from the national team.
He said: “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.”
“I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement but now I don’t. This decision has been extremely difficult to make because I have always given everything for my team-mates, the coaching staff and the good people of Germany.”
Özil retired from Germany duty with 92 caps and 23 goals and currently finds himself frozen out at club level after failing to convince Mikel Arteta of a starting spot at Arsenal.
Özil, 31, has not made a single appearance for Arsenal so far this season and has been left out of the last 17 games in all by manager Mikel Arteta.
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