Muslim footballer Özil quits German national team over racism

Ozil met Erdogan in London in May [Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Palace/Handout via Reuters]

Arsenal star Mesut Özil has announced his retirement from international football after receiving “racist” and “disrespectful” treatment following a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ozil, 29, has Turkish ancestry. He made the announcement on Sunday in a statement he posted on his Twitter page.

“It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events, I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect,” he wrote.

“I am German when we win, but an immigrant when we lose…Racism should never, ever, be accepted.”

The player said if he had not met the Turkish president, he would have been “disrespecting the roots of my ancestors”.

“For me having a picture with President Erdogan wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country,” he said.

Ozil met President Erdogan in London in May.

“These people have used my picture with President Erdogan as an opportunity to express their previously hidden racist tendencies,” Ozil said in the statement.

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