German FA 'very grateful' for Mesut Ozil's contribution but reject claims of racism

The midfielder announced his retirement from the Germany team with a lengthy statement accusing the German FA of racism

FILE-In this June 14 file photo Mesut Oezil looks around during a training session of the German team at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Vatutinki near Moscow, Russia, Thursday, June 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Probst,file)
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The German Football Association (DFB) on Monday rejected claims of racism made by midfielder Mesut Ozil regarding their president Reinhard Grindel.

On Sunday, Ozil announced his retirement from the Germany national team in a lengthy statement released on social media, which accused Grindel of racism, when he broke his silence over his controversial meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May.

"In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose," said Ozil, who accused Grindel of failing to side with him against his critics.

Ozil, who was born in Germany but has Turkish heritage, ended his statement with "racism should never, ever be accepted".

The DFB have responded to Ozil's claims while expressing their regret that the Arsenal midfielder has stepped down from national duty.

"We reject the notion that the DFB is associated with racism," read a statement. "The DFB stands for diversity, from the representatives at the top to the boundless, day-to-day dedication of people at the base.

"The DFB is very grateful to Mesut Ozil for his outstanding performance in the jersey of the German national teams," continued the statement.

"It is regrettable that Mesut Ozil felt that he had not been sufficiently protected as a target of racist slogans.

"But it was important that Mesut Ozil, like Ilkay Gundogan before him, gives answers to the photo [with Erdogan].

"In the DFB, we win and lose together, as a team. The DFB would have been happy if Mesut Ozil had wanted to remain part of the team on this shared basis. He decided otherwise."

The statement was released hours after Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness launched a scathing attack on Mesut Ozil, claiming the midfielder had been "playing like dirt for years" for the Germany team.

Reacting to Ozil's statement, Bayern president Hoeness said he is happy to see the back of the 29-year-old, who was part of the Germany squad that was eliminated in the group stages of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

"I'm glad it is over. He's been playing dirt for years," Hoeness is quoted as saying by Sky Sports. "He last won a tackle before the 2014 World Cup. And now he hides himself and his [rubbish] performance behind this photo.

"His 35 million follower boys, who of course do not exist in the real world, think he has played excellently if he plays a cross to a man."

Hoeness also said that Bayern deliberately single out Ozil as a weak link of the Arsenal side when the two teams face each other in the Uefa Champions League. Ozil has only been on the winning side twice in 17 matches against the Bundesliga champions.

"Whenever we played against Arsenal, we played over him, because we know he's the weak point", Hoeness said.

Ozil, who was a member of the Germany side that won the 2014 World Cup, made 92 appearances for the national team.