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Ozil & Gundogan criticised by DFB for meeting Turkish president Erdogan

11:02 BST 15/05/2018
mesut ozil - cropped
The Arsenal and Manchester City midfielders have been accused of going against Germany's football values by meeting Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The German Football Association (DFB) has criticised Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan for appearing in what it describes as an "election campaign stunt" by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Germany internationals were pictured greeting Erdogan at Turkey's London embassy, along with Everton and Turkey striker Cenk Tosun, as the politician arrived in England ahead of a meeting with UK prime minister Theresa May.

Arsenal star Ozil and Manchester City midfielder Gundogan handed over signed shirts, before a picture of the three players together was uploaded via Ozil's official Instagram page.

The DFB has since issued a statement in which it has accused Ozil and Gundogan, who are both of Turkish descent, of going against its football values by taking part in the meeting.

DFB president Reinhard Grindel said: "The DFB of course respects the special situation for our players with migrant backgrounds, but football and the DFB stands for values that Mr. Erdogan does not sufficiently respect.

"Therefore, it is not a good thing that our internationals have let themselves be misused for his election campaign stunt. It certainly hasn't helped the DFB's integration efforts."

DFB team coordinator Oliver Bierhoff added: "I still have absolutely no doubts about Mesut and Ilkay's commitment to playing for the Germany national team and how much they identify with our values. They were unaware of the symbolism of these pictures, but we cannot endorse it, and we will discuss the matter with the players."

Gundogan insists that he and Ozil did not intend to make a political statement, saying: "It was not our intention to make a political statement with this image, let alone an election campaign. As German national players, we confess to the values ​​of the DFB and are aware of our responsibility.


The (Premier) League of Extraordinary Gentlemen  @ilkayguendogan @cenktosun14

A post shared by Mesut Özil (@m10_official) on May 13, 2018 at 2:29pm PDT

"Football is our life, not politics."

Yıldırm Demirören, Turkish Football Federation President, has hit out at the DFB for their remarks, insisting that they must respect Erdogan.

"It was very disturbing for me to read the tweets posted by German Football Association (DFB) president in his social media account, which includes detrimental statements about our President Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan," he said in a statement.

"DFB president's remarks are unacceptable.

"It is a very well-known fact that our President Mr Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as a former player, is a big football fan who has massively contributed to the progress of the game in Turkey.

"In that sense, his meeting with Germany internationals Mesut Özil and İlkay Gündoğan as well as Turkey international striker Cenk Tosun, who are all Germany-born professional footballers with Turkish descent, is only natural. 

"Footballers of any nationality will always be welcomed by our president, especially when they are the ones who want to have such a meeting.

"It is a terrible mistake to mix politics with football as can be seen from the German president example. For its part, the Turkish Football Federation in no way will participate in such behaviour and will continue to comply with the rules set out by UEFA until the last moment of the UEFA EURO 2024 voting."

The UK has been criticised for hosting Erdogan during what is a high-stakes election campaign.

There has been pressure from human rights campaigners and exiled Turkish citizens to denounce the government's alleged systematic arrests of journalists, civil rights activists and opposition politicians.