Mesut Ozil has thanked Arsenal fans for showing “love” at a pre-season friendly, after what was a tough week for the German midfielder following his racism allegations against the nation’s footballing body.
While the Gunners lost on penalties in their fixture against Atletico Madrid on Thursday, and Ozil sat on the bench to watch the proceedings, the 29-year-old received one of the biggest cheers of the night when his image was shown on the big screen.
Ozil, who has recently linked-up with his club team-mates following the World Cup in Russia, announced his retirement from international football citing “racism and disrespect” as reasons.
Reinhard Grindel, the German football chief, denied racism charges but did accept that he should have stepped in to help Ozil after the playmaker was criticised for posing for a picture with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) July 26, 2018
Ozil, who is a World Cup winner, was born in Germany to Turkish-origin parents, and also said in his statement that he felt he was made the scapegoat for Germany’s early exit at the 2018 World Cup.
Meanwhile, the playmaker has found plenty of support from his club team-mates and manager Unai Emery since his decision to speak out.
“Of course everybody supports Mesut. We’re with him, we’re trying to help him,” Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan told AFP this week.
“Everyone knows that Arsenal is a team with a lot of foreign players and foreign employees. It doesn’t matter which country you represent, it’s like family and we support each other.”
Pedro scored the only goal of the game early on but the Blues, playing a 4-3-3 formation, wasted several opportunities to win by a bigger margin in their first match under Sarri, who was named as Antonio Conte‘s replacement on July 14.
Monday’s game against the A-League side was Chelsea’s only match on the short tour Down Under.
New signing Jorginho, who followed Sarri to the London club from Napoli, made his debut at the Optus Stadium and looked bright, with experienced heads like Cesc Fabregas and David Luiz joined in the starting XI by youngsters Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ethan Ampadu.
Despite being far from full strength, with their World Cup stars still absent, the Premier League outfit found their groove early and took the lead after just five minutes.
The impressive Hudson-Odoi, still only 17, beat his marker on the left then sent in a cross which Pedro guided into the far corner.
It was all Chelsea and they created several chances to extend their lead, with Ross Barkley, Alvaro Morata and Pedro spurning good opportunities before the break.
Hudson-Odoi and Jorginho were the stand-out performers in the first half, and were given the rest of the evening off after being withdrawn at half-time.
That did not alter the flow of the game, though, and Barkley should have doubled the tourists’ advantage but he hit the post with a left-footed effort.
Fabregas, Pedro, Tammy Abraham and Mario Pasalic all had further good opportunities but the Perth defence was holding firm.
Lucas Piazon then had the best chance of all to make it a more comfortable night for Sarri’s men but he could not get sufficient power in his shot after being set free by Abraham.
And they were nearly made to pay late on when Brendon Santalab glanced a header just wide when he should have scored for the hosts.
Chelsea are next in action on Saturday when they take on Inter Milan in Nice.
AC Milan are free to compete in the Europa League this season after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the Italian club’s appeal against a two-year ban from Europe.
UEFA excluded the Rossoneri from its competitions for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns after they were found guilty of breaching the governing body’s licensing and financial fair play regulations.
Milan – now controlled by United States hedge fund Elliott – took an appeal to CAS, and on Friday a panel restored the seven-time European champions’ ability to contest continental honours.
In a statement published on tas-cas.org, the quasi-judicial body noted that the financial situation at San Siro had “significantly improved following the recent change of ownership”.
It rejected Milan’s request to order UEFA to enter into a settlement agreement but did ask European football’s governing body to “issue a proportionate disciplinary measure”, stating that “some important elements have not been properly assessed by the adjudicatory chamber”.
Milan were originally referred to UEFA’s club financial control body last month having sustained losses for several years.
The club, who qualified for the Europa League by virtue of a sixth-placed finish in Serie A last term, argued their finances were stable following a takeover by Li Yonghong last year, but UEFA took action.
Milan chairman Marco Fassone and director of sport Massimiliano Mirabelli spent the summer of 2017 on a recruitment drive, spending more than 200 million euros on the likes of Leonardo Bonucci, Hakan Calhanoglu and Andre Silva.
Their predicament prior to the intervention of CAS had led to speculation that prize assets including Italy defender Bonucci and young goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma could be sold to balance the books.
Fiorentina, who finished eighth in the Italian top flight last season, had stood to benefit from their rivals’ exclusion from the Europa League. Seventh-placed Atalanta retain their qualifying spot.