Mesut Ozil said on Sunday he was quitting the German national football team, citing “racism” in the criticism of him in the side’s World Cup debacle, AFP reports.
Ozil, who has Turkish roots, had earlier defended his decision to pose for a controversial photograph with Turkish President Recep Erdogan in May which sparked questions about his loyalty to Germany’s squad ahead of the World Cup in Russia.
In a three-part statement on Twitter sent over the course of the day, an angry Ozil saved his bombshell for the final salvo.
In it, the Arsenal midfielder blamed the German Football Federation for failing to defend him against his most strident critics.
He said that Grindel and Germany coach Joachim Low had asked him to give a “joint statement to end all the talk and set the record straight” over the picture with Erdogan.
Ozil said earlier that he was true to both his Turkish and German origins and insisted he did not intend to make a political statement by appearing with Erdogan.
Ozil, 29, said he had first met Erdogan in 2010 after the president and German Chancellor Angela Merkel watched a Germany-Turkey match together in Berlin.
Ozil said despite the timing of the picture with teammate Ilkay Gundogan and Erdogan – shortly before the president won re-election in a poll endowing him with sweeping new powers – “it wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country”.
Germany is home to more than three million people of Turkish origin.