‘Racism and Disrespect’: Why Ozil Retired His German Jersey at 29

Take a look at why Germany’s Mesut Ozil retired from international football and big highlights from his career.

Published
Football
2 min read

Video Editor: Vivek Gupta

German football star Mesut Ozil said on Sunday he would no longer play for the national team because he faced "racism and disrespect" because of his Turkish roots.

His impassioned statement is one of the strongest issued by a player in recent years on the subject of racism and has been met with mixed reactions.

Germany failed to qualify from the group stage, making their earliest exit from the tournament in 80 years and Ozil was one of the scapegoats for their unsuccessful title defence.

Ozil, who plays for English club Arsenal, said German Football Association (DFB) President Reinhard Grindel had blamed him for Germany's poor performance.

In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.
Mesut Ozil 

The statement comes amid a political debate in Germany about an influx of 1.6 million migrants since mid-2014 that has seen a rise of the far right at the expense of traditional parties.

Ozil, 29, was a key member of Germany's World Cup-winning side in 2014 and has been voted by fans as the team's player of the year five times since 2011.

But the creative midfielder faced a barrage of criticism at home for having his photograph taken with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in May.

He and Ilkay Gundogan, a team mate also of Turkish descent who posed with Erdogan as well, were jeered by German fans in warm-up games before the World Cup in Russia.

Ozil added he did not feel accepted in German society despite paying taxes there, making donations to German schools and being part of the team that won the World Cup.

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. I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.
Mesut Ozil

(With inputs from Reuters)

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