Mesut Ozil said in a statement that the meeting with Erdogan was not politically motivated and just a way for him to acknowledge his Turkish root
Germany and Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil on Sunday released a statement about his photograph with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The 2014 World Cup winner stated that the image had no political motivations and that not meeting Erdogan would have been disrespecting the roots of his ancestors. “For me, it didn’t matter who was President, it mattered that it was the President,” he said in his 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. I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish. During my childhood, my mother taught me to always be respectful and to never forget where I came from, and these are still values that I think about to this day,” said Ozil.
“For me, having a picture with President Erdogan wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country. My job is of a football player an not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies. In fact, we spoke on the same topic that we do every time we have met – football – as he too was a player in his youth.”
Ozil and fellow German midfielder Ikay Gundogan, both of whom have Turkish roots, came under criticism from German politicians and the head of the German Football Federation Reinhard Grindel when a photo surfaced of them posing with Erdogan before the start of the 2018 World Cup. Ozil subsequently came under considerable criticism after Germany failed to make it beyond the group stage of the tournament.