German soccer body rejects Ozil's racism accusations

Sports
By Reuters

BERLIN - The German Football Association (DFB) on Monday rejected accusations that it was racist after star midfielder Mesut Ozil said on Sunday he would no longer play for the national team because he faced “racism and disrespect” due to his Turkish roots.

“We emphatically reject the DFB being linked to racism,” the DFB said in a statement. “The DFB has been very involved in integration work in Germany for many years.”

Ozil, who plays for English club Arsenal, said DFB President Reinhard Grindel had blamed him for Germany’s poor performance at this year’s World Cup, considering him a German when the side won and an immigrant when they lost.

Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil announced his retirement from international football with immediate effect on Sunday, hitting out at what he perceived to be unfair discrimination surrounding his meeting with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May.

Ozil, 29, was part of the Germany squad that exited the World Cup in Russia at the group stage and was the target of criticism for his performances as well as his meeting with Erdogan who has been accused of human rights abuses.

The Arsenal playmaker has Turkish ancestry and defended his actions in a lengthy statement, the first time he has publicly addressed the matter.