Arsenal star Mesut Ozil issues statement on Recep Tayyip Erdogan picture

Sport360 staff 20:50 22/07/2018
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Mesut Ozil has expressed thoughts on his controversial photograph with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that raised questions about his loyalty to Germany’s national squad ahead of World Cup 2018, and clarified that he has no regrets.

The Arsenal star wrote and insisted in a statement on Twitter that he was loyal to both his Turkish and German origins and he did not intend to make a political statement.

“Like many people, my ancestry traces back to more than one country. Whilst I grew up in Germany, my family background has its roots firmly based in Turkey,” he said.

“I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish.”

The talented midfielder revealed he first came face to face with Erdogan in 2010 after the president and German chancellor Angela Merkel watched a Germany-Turkey match in each other’s company.

“Since then, our paths have crossed a lot of times around the globe,” he said.

“I’m aware that the picture of us caused a huge response in the German media, and whilst some people may accuse me of lying or being deceitful, the picture we took had no political intentions.”

Ozil had featured in the picture alongside teammate Ilkay Gundogan, and while the timing of it was shortly before Erdogan won re-election in a poll that handed him sweeping new powers – the 29-year-old said it had nothing to do with politics or elections, it was instead about him respecting the highest office of his family’s country.

“My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies,” Ozil said.

“I get that this may be hard to understand, as in most cultures the political leader cannot be thought of as being separate from the person. But in this case it is different. Whatever the outcome would’ve been in this previous election, or the election before that, I would have still taken the picture.”

Ozil himself had come under criticism after Germany’s shock early exit at the World Cup after a 2-0 loss to South Korea while there was massive outrage over the picture as well.

Team boss Oliver Bierhoff even went to the extent of suggesting that Ozil should have been dropped after his failure to explain himself over the Erdogan picture.

Though Bierhoff did later withdraw from his statement, the furore over the picture didn’t seem to stop on social media. 

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