Mesut Özil has officially announced his retirement from international football after he has accused the German football association of treating him unfairly solely based on his Turkish roots.
The Arsenal star, along with Ilkay Gündogan, had a brief meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President. The midfielders were pictured with the President and were immediately put under heavy criticism due to the political activity ongoing between the countries, yet Özil stated that the meeting was everything but political. However, several fans and former players continued to undermine the midfielder's comments, with Oliver Bierhoff and Ottmar Hitzfeld stating that the midfield duo should not have played for Germany in the last World Cup
Özil said that ever since he was young, he was told to admire his roots, stating that "I have two hears, one German and one Turkish." To Özil, the picture with Erdogan was simply him admiring the moment with the highest office of his Turkish roots and nothing else. Even though the midfielder stated his intentions, the German media along with the German football association constantly threatened him, eventually leading to him retiring from international football at the age of just twenty-nine.
Many players and coaches have defended Özil during this time, such as Jürgen Klopp, Hector Bellerin, Jerome Boateng and Kerim Demirbay, with the latter saying that the Arsenal star “wears the Germany jersey with pride”.
The footballing world should aim to unite, as racism and political issues have no place in football, as it will not only influence certain decisions taken by individual players, but also some decisions that may be more crucial to the footballing world.