In a statement released on Monday, the DFB (German football association) said it regretted but respected Mesut Özil’s decision to retire from the national team. It also thanked the midfielder for his 92 international appearances for the country, as well as his “decisive role in Germany winning the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.”
It went on to stress that the integration work that it does on all levels of German football was of “central importance” to the DFB.
It also conceded that it could have done better in managing the affair that started when Mesut Özil and Ilkay Gündogan had their pictures taken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prior to the World Cup in Russia.
“We regret that Mesut Özil feels he has not been protected enough against racist insults towards his person,” the statement said. It added that “it was important that Mesut Özil, in the same way Ilkay Gündogan did, explain the [Erdogan] photo, regardless of the sporting outcome in Russia. In the DFB, we win and lose together.”
No racism at the DFB
The statement said the DFB would continue its “successful work on integration,” while at the same time rejecting the notion that racism could have been behind the singling out of Özil after Germany’s failure in Russia.
“We clearly reject the idea that the DFB could be associated with racism, with regard to its representatives, employees, the clubs and the work of millions of volunteers,” it said. “The DFB has been working hard in the service of integration in Germany for many years.”