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Ozil rages at DFB supremo Grindel as he walks out on German national team

Mesut Ozil of Germany stands dejected following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Korea Republic and Germany at Kazan Arena on June 27, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
by Keir Radnedge, AIPS Football Commission Chairman
BERLIN, July 23, 2018 - Mesut Ozil has stormed out on the German national team, announcing his decision in an astonishing attack on DFB president Grindel in a statement whose words and significance will reach far beyond sport and into the national and international political arenas.

The 29-year-old explained his decision in a length statement in English in which he accused Grindel, a member of the governing councils of both world federation FIFA and European governing body UEFA, had made him a “scapegoat for his incompetence and inability to do his job properly.”

Arsenal midfielder Ozil, currently in Singapore with his club, became the focus of controversy before the World Cup when he and Manchester City Ilkay Gundogan were pictured presenting shirts to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

Erdogan was approaching national elections in Turkey and was in Germany rallying support among the expatriate community.

The photographs raised a storm which was seized on by the right-wing politicians. The issue returned to centre stage with a vengeance after Germany’s failure at the World Cup in Russia when the reigning champions were eliminated in the first round.

A further complicating factor is that European federation UEFA votes on September 27 between bids from Germany and Turkey to host Euro 2024.

Ozil, who scored 23 goals in 92 internationals, has now accused Grindel of treating him and his views in a “patronising” manner and being interested only in his own political agenda.

Grindel was a member of the Bundesliga from 2000 until 2016 as a leading member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU party.

Ozil said: “The past few weeks have given me time to reflect and reflect on what happened, and as a result, I want to share my thoughts and feelings about what has happened.”

He added: “Arguably the issue that has frustrated me the most over the past couple of months has been the mistreatment from the DFB and in particular the DFB president Reinhard Grindel. After my picture with President Erdogan I was asked by [coach] Joachim Lowe to cut short my holiday and give a joint statement to end all the talk and set the record straight.

“Whilst I attempted to explain to 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. Whilst his actions were patronising, we came to agree that the best thing to do was concentrate on football and the upcoming World Cup.

“During this time I also met with the President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Unlike Grindel, President Steinmeier was professional and actually was interested in what I had to say about my family, my heritage and my decisions.

“The meeting was only between myself, Ilkay, President Steinmeier with Grindel being upset that he wasn’t allowed inside to boost his own political agenda.

“Since the end of the World Cup Grindel has come under much pressure regarding his decisions before the tournament and rightly so.

“Recently he has publicly said I should once again explain my actions and puts me at fault for the poor team results in Russia, despite telling me it was over in Berlin.

“I will no longer stand for being a scapegoat for his incompetence and inability to do his job properly.

“In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters I am German when we win but I am an immigrant when we lose. This 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.

“My friend Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose are never referred to as German-Polish so why am I German-Turkish?”

As for the circumstances of the picture, Ozil said: “I am aware that the picture has aroused great interest in the German media. For me it had nothing to do with politics or elections – it was a question of respect for the highest office in my family’s country.”

Ozil also complained that German national team sponsor Mercedes removed him from its promotional campaign and added: “With a heavy heart and after much deliberation I will not play for Germany after the recent events, as long as I feel this sense of racism and disrespect.”

Germany first post-World Cup internationals are on September 6 against world champions France and on September 9 against Peru.

Low is due to announce his squad on August 29.
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