Germany’s football association, the DFB, has “emphatically rejected” allegations of racism from Mesut Ozil following his acrimonious retirement from international football.
The DFB however acknowledged that it could have done more to protect him from abuse in the wake of the Arsenal playmaker’s stunning decision.
Ozil, 29, announced his retirement from international football, citing “racism and disrespect” within German football after he allegedly received hate mail and threats following Germany’s disappointing World Cup.
His impassioned statement announcing his retirement sparked heated debate over racism in Germany over the weekend.
Reacting to the furore, the DFB said it “regrets the departure of Mesut Ozil from the national team”, adding: “We emphatically reject the DFB being linked to racism. The DFB has been very involved in integration work in Germany for many years.”
Ozil was criticised by the DFB and across Germany after being photographed with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a London event in May.
The former Real Madrid star received more criticism after Germany were knocked out of the World Cup in the group stages.
And the DFB conceded it had not handled the matter well, adding: “It is regrettable that Mesut Ozil felt that he had not been sufficiently protected as a target of racist slogans.”
However, it stressed its commitment to equality, saying: “The DFB stands for diversity, from the representatives at the top to the boundless, day-to-day dedication of people at the base.”