'No place in football for politics' - RB Leipzig boss Rangnick wades into Ozil racism row

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The Arsenal star's retirement from the national team has launched a countrywide debate, with a number of high profile names voicing their opinions

RB Leipzig manager Ralf Rangnick has spoken out over the encroachment of political matters into football, claiming that his club will not be approving the use of banners inside its stadium.

Speaking ahead of his side’s Bundesliga outing against Hannover 96, the Leipzig chief said it was important for football clubs to steer clear of “political positions” and should instead pursue an apolitical role.

Rangnick’s comments came just weeks after Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil announced he was retiring from international duty with Germany, citing unfair discrimination from the press and the German football federation, the DFB.

"Football can basically bring a lot together, even topics that are otherwise difficult to unite," Rangnick told RB Live. "For this, but football must try to stay out of political positions.

“Football should continue to be aware of this function; this includes taking an apolitical role.”

Ozil, who is of Turkish birth, had come under criticism from some fans and sections of the German media after he was pictured alongside Turkish president Recep Erodgan, and said on stepping down from international duty in July: “People with racially discriminative backgrounds should not be allowed to work in the largest football federation in the world that has players from dual‑heritage families.

“Attitudes like theirs simply do not reflect the players they supposedly represent. In the eyes of [DFB president, Reinhard] Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win but I am an immigrant when we lose.”

The 29-year-old’s decision was attacked by Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness over hIs decision, who told SportBild: “All [Ozil] is doing on the field is playing cross passes. Now he hides himself and his crap performance behind this photo.”

Rangnick, who was appointed for a second stint as Leipzig boss in the summer, was speaking after Eintracht Frankfurt chief Peter Fischer spoke out against the German far-right party AfD, said that although football has the power to “help close fronts”, political slogans do not belong inside stadiums.

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"You have to look in football, that you can not be stretched before every cart,” he said. “The club has a clear opinion, it shows that it is committed to a very strong social position.  But we must not let ourselves be stretched before every cart.

"We will not approve banners with political statements in the stadium, this is a stadium and a football game.”

 

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