Mesut Özil announces retirement from Germany’s national football team following row over identity

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Publication Date 22/07/2018
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Mesut Özil announced on 22 July 2018 he would no longer play international football for Germany following the controversy sparket by a meeting with Turkey's President.

Further information:

Mr. Özil is a third-generation Turkish-German.

On 13 May, he joined fellow midfielder Ilkay Gündogan to meet Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a charity gala event, in which the latter was presented with shirts of their respective clubs, including Mr Gündogan's signed 'for my president'. Pictures were released by Mr Erdogan's team on the following day in the context of the Turkish Presidential election campaign.

The meeting and pictures were heavily criticised by politicians and football commentators in Germany. The players were still selected to be part of the national team attending the 2018 World Cup but faced persistent negative reaction from many German fans attending the matches.

As he announced his retirement from Germany's national team, Mesut Özil rejected any political meaning to the pictures taken with President Erdogan and argued the decision to stand down was due to feeling he was no longer wanted in the national team by many in the country, including the entity leading the country's football.

The controversy sparked a wider debate on national and European identity.

Related Links
The Guardian, 16.05.18: Özil and Gündoğan's Erdoğan picture causes anger in Germany
[Opinion] The Guardian, 25.07.18: Mesut Özil reminds us why minorities have more than one identity
BBC Sport, 23.07.18: Mesut Ozil: Reaction in Germany - criticism from some, sympathy from others
The Independent, 23.07.18: German when he won, an immigrant when he lost - why Mesut Ozil turned his back on Germany
[Opinion] The Guardian, 23.07.18: It’s not just Mesut Özil. All diaspora footballers face the same conflict
TRT World, 23.07.18: Football: 'I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish' - Mesut Ozil
Deutsche Welle, 14.05.18: Mesut Özil and Ilkay Gündogan criticized for Erdogan meeting
EUObserver, 23.07.18: Ozil's resignation highlights Europe's identity debate
Politico, 23.07.18: Merkel says Mesut Özil’s decision to quit German team must be ‘respected’

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