Turkish Football News

Arsenal star Ozil defends controversial picture

Ozil defends controversial picture with Turkish president

The midfielder has addressed the infamous picture on his social media account.

German international midfielder Mesut Ozil finally broke his silence over his meeting with Turkish president Recep Erdogan, in a statement he shared on Twitter on Sunday.

Ozil, a German national of Turkish descent, met with Erdogan in London during the president’s visit to the United Kingdom in May. Since the meeting, the Arsenal midfielder has been under fire from the German media and has been subjected to racist abuse and attacks.

Up until this point, Ozil had not responded to the criticism unlike his Germany teammate Ilkay Gundogan, another player with Turkish roots who met with Erdogan.

According to the statement, the past couple of weeks have given the playmaker “time to reflect and time to think over the events of the last few months.”

“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,” Ozil wrote. “During my childhood, my mother taught me always to be respectful and to never forget where I came from, and these are values that I still think about to this day.”

He said he first met Erdogan in 2010 after he and Angela Merkel watched a match between Germany and Turkey in Berlin, adding that since then their paths “have crossed a lot of times around the globe.”

Commenting on the picture taken with the Turkish president in London, Ozil said, “I’m aware that the picture of us caused a huge response in the German media, and whilst some people may accuse me of lying or being deceitful, the picture we took had no political intentions.”

“As I said, my mother has never let me lose sight of my ancestry, heritage and family traditions.”

The player reiterated that the meeting was not about politics or elections, but rather it was “about respecting the highest office of my family’s country.”

Ozil stressed that the meeting was not an endorsement of any policies, but the two only spoke about the topic they usually discuss: football.

“Although the German media have portrayed something different, the truth is that not meeting with the President would have been disrespecting the roots of my ancestors, who I know would be proud of where I am today,” the statement said.

Ozil expressed confidence that having respect for political office is a view both the queen and British Prime Minister Theresa May shared when they hosted Erdogan in London.

“Whether it had been the Turkish or German president, my actions would’ve been no different,” he said.

“Whatever the outcome would’ve been in the previous election, or the election before that, I would have still taken the picture.”

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