The president of the German Football Association has expressed regret about the circumstances that led to Mesut Ozil‘s retirement from international football.
Ozil was heavily criticised in Germany after he was pictured with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a highly controversial figure, prior to the World Cup.
Writing on dfb.de, Reinhard Grindel said: “Mesut Ozil’s decision to step down from the Germany national team has triggered a debate about racism in general and about football’s capabilities for integration in particular. As DFB president, I do not wish to shy away from this debate.
“Our performance at the World Cup called many things into question. I of course ask myself what I could have done better during that time.
“I won’t pretend that this personal criticism hasn’t affected me, but I feel even more sorry for my colleagues, the many volunteers at grassroots level and the staff at the DFB, who have been linked with racism. It’s something I firmly reject for both the association and myself personally.
“The DFB’s values are also my own; diversity, solidarity, anti-discrimination and integration are all values and beliefs that are close to my heart.
“We live our values. That is why we, as the DFB, questioned the photo with Turkish president Erdogan. I very much regret that this has been misused for racist slogans.
“Looking back, as president I should been unequivocally clear about something that is a given for me as a person and for us all as an association: any form of racial hostility will not be accepted or tolerated under any circumstances.
“That was the case for Jerome Boateng, that is the case for Mesut Ozil, and it is the same for any player at grassroots level that has a migrant background.”
Brazil boss Tite has signed a new contract which will see him remain in the role until the 2022 World Cup.
Tite, 57, led the Selecao to the quarter-finals at Russia 2018 where they lost against Belgium.
The former Corinthians manager, who took control of the national team in 2016, has done enough to earn a new deal that should take him to Qatar 2022.
“I understand the CBF has given us the conditions to build an environment of union and extreme professionalism and we will continue,” he told the Brazilian Football Confederation’s (CBF) website.
“It is a great challenge and we are happy to face it, with the focus on the next games and competitions.”
The CBF has also extended the contract of former Arsenal midfielder Edu, who is Brazil’s general manager.
Low was enjoying a holiday in Sardinia when news of the 29-year old’s retirement came, and he only found out when Ozil posted statements on Twitter and Instagram.
“Neither the national coach nor I were informed in advance,” Low’s agent Harun Arslan confirmed to German daily Bild.
The Arsenal midfielder had cited “racism and disrespect” as reasons for his retirement while also targeting the president of the German FA, Reinhard Grindel.
“In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Ozil, who has Turkish roots, wrote in his lengthy farewell statement.
The German Football Association (DFB) had denied Ozil’s claims on Monday. However, its image was tarnished.
In a survey of 5,000 Germans, that was conducted soon after the saga unfolded, by t-online.de, 49.7 per cent said Grindel should resign over the saga.
Ozil admitted that he won’t wear the German jersey now after the furore caused by the picture with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the eve of the World Cup, as Grindel did not come to his rescue amidst all the criticism.
After Germany’s early exit from the World Cup in Russia, following a 2-0 defeat to South Korea, many pundits had put the onus on Ozil.
A World Cup winner in 2014 though, Ozil is walking away after nine years as one of Low’s most trusted players.
He has scored 23 goals and provided 40 assists in 92 appearances for Germany, and his loss is a big blow to Low, who deployed him as his main playmaker.
Germany’s first game after the World Cup disappointment is against world champions France in the new Nations League tournament on September 6 in Munich.
III / III pic.twitter.com/c8aTzYOhWU
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) July 22, 2018
And with Ozil now gone, Low will have to find his replacement.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Julian Draxler or Borussia Dortmund star Marco Reus could be the leading candidates.
Meanwhile, Ozil’s team-mates have wished him well on his career with the German squad.
“Mesut Abi (‘brother’ in Turkish), your technique on the ball has opened the door to the national team for players like me,” Draxler wrote on his Instagram account.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done for German football. You can be proud of your many achievements.”
However, there are some who who don’t see Ozil’s retirement as a great loss for Germany.
“He has not put in performances that can help the national team over the last 18 months to two years, nor was he convincing at the World Cup in his two outings,” ex-Germany captain Lothar Matthaus told Sky Sports.
“Now there is the chance for a younger, maybe even a better player” to come into the Germany side, Matthaus added.