Turkish President Erdogan comes to Ozil's defence

Respect support and silence – Mesut Ozil saga splits sports world

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said he had backed Mesut Ozil's decision to quit the German national team on racism grounds in a telephone call with the Turkish-origin football star, wading into a controversy that caused uproar in Germany.

Former Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Fatau Dauda and compatriot Kevin-Prince Boateng have expressed their support for Mesut Ozil within the fight against racism in football. The SABC's Ira Spitzer reports from Berlin.

Gundogan admitted that the meeting was not political, with Ozil's initial statement on Sunday confirming that his intentions were also not motivated by politics, merely respecting the position of president and the country of his ancestors.

Ozil was part of the German team that suffered an embarrassing exit at the recent Fifa World Cup. "He is a great footballer who has contributed a great deal to the national team", said Merkel's spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer, adding that he has "now made a decision that must be respected".

The stopper began by quoting a section of the extensive letter Ozil posted on Sunday, explaining his worldwide retirement, before adding: "Stand for Ozil and say no to racism".

Handout.  Reuters
Handout. Reuters

Germany's best-selling newspaper Bild led the charge of criticism against Ozil, calling his statement a "whiny resignation" and said he heaped "criticism on everyone but himself".

"He has not put in performances that can help the national team over the last 18 months to two years, nor was he convincing at the World Cup in his two outings", ex-Germany captain Lothar Matthaeus told Sky Sports. "That is not why I play football, and I will not sit back and do nothing about it. Racism should never, ever be accepted".

Earlier on Monday, Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness accused Ozil of "playing crap for years" and failing to "win a tackle since the 2014 World Cup". "Not only is he a disgrace to yourself, but also and more importantly a shame to German football and the people of Germany". Ozil has insisted that "it wasn't about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family's country". "I think here lays an important issue", he said.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ozalan from the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, said: "I congratulate Mesut Ozil".

It's getting serious: Trump threatens Iran in ALL CAPS
Tehran denounced Pompeo's speech as an interference in Tehran's affairs, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. But he did not rule out peace between the two countries, which have been at odds since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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