“I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.”
The photo received backlash from German media who questioned Özil’s loyalty to the country, while the president of the German Football Association (DFB), Reinhard Grindel, said that “football and the DFB stand for values that Mr Erdogan does not respect. That’s why it’s not acceptable that our national team players are exploited for his election campaign.”
“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 wrote.
“Whether it had been the Turkish or the German President, my actions would’ve been no different.”
The statement noted that the DFB is involved in several projects to integrate “tens of thousands” of refugees into the sport, and could not let the comments made by Özil go unchallenged.