Jul 08 2018

Picking Ozil for German national squad may have been mistake, says Bierhoff

German Football Association general manager Oliver Bierhoff said taking Mesut Ozil to the World Cup amid the player’s controversy involving Turkish  President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may have been a mistake, ESPN news reported.

Turkish origin German players Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan had their picture taken with the Turkish President during his visit to London in May, in a move that sparked a barrage of criticism in Germany. The two top players came under heavy criticism from Germany's DFB soccer federation and several German politicians. The bulk of criticism directed at the players was centered around the Turkish president not sufficiently respecting German values.

"I believe that the team wasn't so bothered about the fact that Mesut and Ilkay were in the photos," ESPN quoted Bierhoff as saying. "But the [media] debate just wouldn't stop. In hindsight, I would have tried to deal with this issue in a more decisive manner."

After the incident, Gundogan published a statement on social media committing himself to "German values," while Ozil chose to remain silent on the topic

Bierhoff noted that the controversy reached a point where the federation should have considered leaving Ozil out of the national squad for his choice in refusing to address the matter.

"We should have considered passing on him," Bierhoff said. "We failed to do that with Mesut. And thus, we should have considered to pass on him for sporting purposes.’’