Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has reignited a row over his political allegiance after reports emerged in German media claiming the football star had invited Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to his upcoming wedding.
The footballer, who has Turkish heritage, was lambasted by a large section of German fans and senior figures last year for being photographed with Erdogan amid political tensions between the countries.
Ozil was also exposed to criticism by those who blamed him for the country’s early group stage elimination at the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Mesut Ozil met with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan again today – and invited him to his wedding. pic.twitter.com/Wzg4LnEYD6
— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) March 16, 2019
The row surrounding the Ozil reached a climax in July when he announced his retirement from the national team, insisting he was made a scapegoat for Die Mannschaft’s poor performance at the tournament. “I will no longer be playing at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect,” he wrote at that time.
On Sunday, German tabloid Bild reported that Ozil, who announced his engagement to former Miss Turkey Amine Gulse earlier this year, reportedly invited Erdogan to his wedding which will take place this summer.
A picture of Ozil and his fiancée allegedly asking the Turkish leader to be a guest of honor at their wedding inflamed debate in Germany with many people, including fans and political figures, condemning the player for the apparent move.
“The fact this is still going on will disappoint a lot of football fans, including me,” said Helge Braun, Angela Merkel’s chief of staff.
“Everyone can invite whoever he likes to his wedding, and of course this also applies to Mesut Özil,” said Cem Özdemir, Germany’s highest-profile politician of Turkish origin.
“But both current and former national players are role models and must ask themselves whether they live up to that role if they indulge autocrats who enrich themselves at the expense of their country and make their opponents disappear in dungeons. I think that is inappropriate,” Özdemir added.