German worldwide Mesut Ozil has defended a photograph in which he was pictured beaming with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, saying he was merely respecting the highest political office of his family's country.
Ozil said he had met Erdogan once before when he joined Angela Merkel to watch Germany versus Turkey football match in 2010.
Ozil, however, explained that the meeting with Erdogan was apolitical and that he did not intend to make a political statement by appearing with Erdogan.
Citing anti-Turkish comments from far-right politicians and fans, Ozil said he would "no longer be playing for Germany at worldwide level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect".
Gundogan had earlier stated that the photo was not politically motivated, with Ozil echoing same sentiment in the first part of his statement released on Sunday on Twitter.
Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has quit global football, citing the "racism and disrespect" he has faced in Germany over his Turkish roots.
Ozil also criticised Grindel's past record as a member of Germany's Parliament, concluding: "People with racially discriminative backgrounds should not be allowed to work in the largest football federation in the world that has many players from dual-heritage families".
Ozil, 29, announced his retirement from global football on Sunday in a series of lengthy statements, hitting out at what he perceived as "racist and disrespectful" treatment following a scandal over a meeting he held with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May.
I am an immigrant when we lose
"But when high-ranking DFB officials treat me as they did, disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into political propaganda, then enough is enough".
He has pictured with the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, prior to the start of the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation, which had resulted in an outburst of anger.
In the posts, Ozil, a 2014 World cup victor, further explained how he felt he was perceived by DFB President Reinhard Grindel during victory and during defeat.
"I congratulate Mesut Ozil who by leaving the national team has scored the most attractive goal against the virus of fascism", Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul wrote on Twitter.
"During my childhood, my mother taught me to always be respectful and to never forget where I came from, and these are still values I think about to this day".
Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness ripped into Mesut Ozil following the Arsenal star's worldwide retirement, and labeled the 29-year-old "s**t for years".
"Whenever [Bayern] played against Arsenal, we played over him because we knew that was their weak point", the 66-year-old former striker said.
"An extremely accomplished footballer provides a perfectly reasonable explanation for meeting with President Erdogan".
Ozil who has now rejoined with his club for pre-season, issued a three-part lengthy statement on his Twitter account explaining his decision to quit, attacking DFB president Reinhard Grindel and the German media for being racist and frustrating him.
"Yet after my picture with president Erdogan, they took me out of the campaigns and cancelled all promotional activities that were scheduled".
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