The German FA (DFB) has admitted it “made mistakes” with its handling of Mesut Ozil in the build-up to the Arsenal star’s acrimonious international retirement in 2018.
On the eve of the Russia World Cup, Ozil was pictured alongside teammate Ilkay Gundogan both with Turkish roots meering Turkish president Recep Erdogan.
The picture caused media trial and outrage in Germany and hate mongering towards Ozil escalated as the defending champions failed to make it out of the World Cup group stages.
After the tournament, the player posted a number of letters on social media detailing the “racism and disrespect” he had suffered, culminating in him announcing his quitting from the national team.
Last year, Ozil defended his picture with close friend Erdogan, whose state visit to London was met with protests from human rights groups.
“[Erdogan] is the current president of Turkey and I would show respect to that person, whoever it was,” Ozil told The Athletic. “Although I was born and raised in Germany, Turkey is part of my heritage.
“If the German president or [Chancellor] Angela Merkel are in London and ask to see me, to speak to me, of course I would do that as well.
Two years after the incident, the DFB has said it could have handled the situation better and admitted it did not even meet with Ozil for talks.
“The DFB made mistakes in dealing with the events surrounding the Ozil case,” general secretary Friedrich Curtis told the German Foundation on Integration.
“A photo became a burning glass for many topics. The moment there were racist allegations, we missed the time to meet with the player.”
Ozil, the highest earning player in the club, is currently being ostracized by Arsenal for his political stands on issues like China’s persecution of Uighurs and club’s internal mismanagement of pay cuts in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.