The Germany Football Association (DFB) has emphatically rejected the racism claims levelled against it by Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil.
The 29-year-old midfielder had earlier announced his retirement from international football with Germany on Sunday evening citing racism in the wake of the backlash he received following the four-time world champions’ early exit at the just concluded FIFA World Cup tournament in Russia.
Germany finished bottom of Group F behind South Korea, Mexico and Sweden.
The former Real Madrid and Werder Bremen star was specifically criticised by top German officials for taking a photo with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in London in May in the company of fellow Germany teammate Ilkay Gundogan.
In reaction to Ozil’s claims, a DFB statement said it “regrets the departure of Mesut Ozil from the national team.”
“We emphatically reject the DFB being linked to racism.” the statement added.
Anti-racism body Kick It Out were very vocal in their support for the 2014 World Cup winner.
The statement read: “Following Germany’s exit from the World Cup, the racist treatment Mesut Ozil has faced by elements of their media, supporters and wider society is extremely disappointing — but is also reflective of the experience of a number of footballers across Europe from mixed heritage backgrounds.
“Immigration has transformed modern life and modern football for the better — the success of Premier League is due to the contribution of footballers from around the world, while the World Cup has been enriched by players of dual heritage such as Ozil.
“However, Ozil is right to suggest that for elements of society, ‘when we win I am German, but I am an immigrant when we lose.’ Unfortunately, black players in England, France and beyond have been treated in a similar fashion for a long time.
“We understand that football is a results business and inevitably there will be criticism of players when a leading nation such as Germany is knocked out of a tournament at an early stage.
“But the singling out of Ozil by parts of the German media, discriminatory comments made by supporters, the lack of support from some sponsors and the alleged treatment by DFB President Richard Grindel, has gone far beyond any reasonable analysis of his performances.
“Footballers must always be wary of their status as role models being exploited for political propaganda, but no player should ever have their loyalty to their country questioned because of a dual heritage. The mere fact that Ozil decided to represent Germany should be enough to demonstrate his commitment, but clearly in some circles that is not enough.
“Mesut Ozil has been treated disgracefully and we have contacted Arsenal to offer our support to him at this time. Those who have driven him to consider international retirement should be ashamed of themselves and his case should encourage all of football to reflect on how the game treats footballers from mixed heritage backgrounds.” The statement concluded.