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23rd Jul 2018

German FA respond to Mesut Ozil’s claims of racism

Ozil announced his international retirement in a lengthy statement on Sunday afternoon

Simon Lloyd

The German football association (DFB) has strongly denied allegations of racism from Mesut Ozil

Ozil, who played for his country at the World Cup in Russia, announced his international retirement at the weekend, referring to “racism and disrespect” within German football as the reason for his decision.

The DFB said it regretted the Arsenal midfielder’s departure from the national side, making clear in a statement that they ’emphatically reject the DFB being linked to racism’.

‘The DFB has been very involved in integration work in Germany for many years,’ the statement added.

Prior to the World Cup, Ozil was criticised by the DFB and the media in his homeland after posing for photographs with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan at an event held in London in May. He and Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan, who was also photographed with Erdogan, were later booed by fans during their 2-1 friendly defeat by Austria in Klagenfurt as the German squad prepared to fly to Russia. Gundogan was booed again in their next game, a friendly with Saudi Arabia – a game Ozil missed.

Although the DFB statement went on to stress its commitment to equality, it also conceded it hadn’t handled the matter well: ‘It is regrettable that Mesut Ozil felt that he had not been sufficiently protected as a target of racist slogans.’

The 29-year-old Arsenal player has earned 92 caps for Germany, racking up 29 goals in a nine-year international career and being a key part of Joachim Löw’s team that won the World Cup in Brazil four years ago.