Özil Quits International Play
Mesut Özil has decided to walk away from the international game. The 29-year-old Arsenal midfielder has quit Die Mannschaft (the German National team). This decision comes after he has been blamed by German Football Association President Reinhard Grindel for Germany performing so poorly (among other things which I’ll get to later). In my opinion, those claims are absolutely absurd. He may not have been the best he can be, but Özil passes the ball better than 90% of guys who have ever played the game. And yes, to all my fellow Spurs fans, I nearly threw up in my mouth saying that. But it’s true.
At first glance, you may think something along the lines of: “Wow, he didn’t perform in the World Cup and Germany finished last in their group. What a baby.” In reality, though, it goes way deeper than his performance in the group stages.
Unfortunately, racism has been and continues to be, a part of soccer. This doesn’t just fall into the category of a fan base making monkey chants at an opposing black player. It also speaks to how clubs, countries, and fan bases treat their own.
Dual-Citizenship in Germany
Despite the fact that Özil was born in and has played his entire international career for Germany, his family originally comes from Turkey. Turkish immigrants make up about 3% of the Germany population. In addition to the Turkish, Germany has the highest population of immigrants in the EU. Immigrants account for roughly 12% of the overall population in Germany.
Now, Özil isn’t quitting due to Aryan chants from a Nazi party or anything, but he has faced some harsh criticism over his international career when he hasn’t played at his best. Despite being a key member of their 2014 World Cup winning squad, Özil has been hit hard when he hasn’t performed. Much like the criticism swirling around the French team right now (I promise I’ll get into that and then some later this week), the criticism facing Özil has been very…racial. When playing well, he is a proud German. When he fails, he is Turkish. This has been, and would have continued to be, an unfair slight on him.
It’s absolutely insane to me that this is a conversation we’re having. In 2018. But I digress…
The latest bit of trouble for Özil has been due to a picture he took, alongside German teammate and fellow Turkish rooted German İlkay Gündoğan, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This picture occurred during an event in May in London. Özil and Gündoğan, along with Everton’s Cenk Tosun, play in England’s Premier League. They came under fire for this picture due to Erdogan’s cruel history as a politician, and his poor treatment of his own people. Many have called this a political act by the players. But, in reality, they’re just holding true to their roots and attending an event involving a nation that holds half of their heart.
I feel for these guys, I really do. Even though Özil plays for my most hated soccer rival, I can’t imagine what the poor guy is going through. He tweeted his thoughts last night, and that has sparked some heated debate on the international stage. I’ll leave you with his thoughts in his own words because I simply can’t do them justice.
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