VIDEO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Arsenal’s Mesut Özil and Man City’s Ilkay Gundogan in London last weekend
The Germans want Ozil and Gundogan to look at their meeting with Erdogan from the sporting perspective — and how bad it looks for the world champions. Condemnation of the images has reignited a prickly debate in Germany about whether people with immigrant backgrounds are sufficiently committed to the country and its values. The DFB moved to highlight in a statement that it does not doubt the players’ commitment to the team or their values. “It was not our intention to make a political statement with this picture, still less to take part in election campaigning, ” said Gundogan, who won the Premier League title with Manchester City. “As German national players, we stand by the values of the DFB and are aware of our responsibility.” “Football is our life, ” Gundogan said, “and not politics.”
Strained diplomatic relations between Germany and Turkey have taken on a sporting dimension as they bid to host soccer’s 2024 European Championship. Four months before UEFA decides the destination of the tournament, concerns about Turkey’s increasingly repressive direction under Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s presidency have been raised by the head of Germany’s soccer federation.