Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil says he will no longer play for Germany after criticism for meeting with controversial Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and for his performances at the 2018 World Cup.
Ozil confirmed the decision in a lengthy statement on his Twitter account where he hit out at DFB President Reinhard Grindel, saying he would "no longer stand for being a scapegoat for his incompetence and inability to do his job properly."
Ozil said that in the "eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose."
The statement added that the treatment has made him "no longer want to wear the German national team shirt" and that he will not play for the team while having "this feeling of racism and disrespect."
Ozil's announcement came after he had responded to criticism from supporters for the meeting with Erdogan. The Arsenal man explained why he took the meeting and said there was no political motive involved:
Ozil, Ilkay Gundogan and Cenk Tosun all met with the Turkey president in London and handed over signed shirts as a gift, per Goal's Chris Wheatley:
Grindel criticised the players for their actions and said they had been exploited, per DFB.de.
"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 exploited for his election campaign stunt. It certainly hasn't helped the DFB's integration efforts."
Erdogan's visit to the United Kingdom brought criticism from human rights campaigners and opposition politicians, according to the Guardian's Patrick Wintour.
The 64-year-old went on to win the presidential election after securing outright victory in the first round of polling in June 2018. He secured 53 per cent of the vote to win a new five-year term, per BBC News.
Ozil and Gundogan are both Germany internationals with Turkish heritage. Germany general manager Oliver Bierhoff said Die Mannschaft should have considered leaving Ozil out of their World Cup squad, per Welt (h/t Goal's Ronan Murphy).
"We never forced any player of the national team to do something, but we always tried to convince them. We haven't succeeded with Mesut. That's why we should have thought about leaving him out from a sporting point of view.
"I think the fact that Mesut and Ilkay took these pictures did not keep the team busy. But the debate afterwards did. Looking back now, I would try to be clearer regarding this topic."
Germany endured a disappointing World Cup, failing to make it out of the group stages.
Ozil will now return to action with Arsenal and has been named in the club's squad for their pre-season tour of Singapore. They will play friendlies against Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain as part of the 2018 International Champions Cup.