By: Oma Akatugba
Mustafa Özil, the father of Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil, has slammed the German national team’s manager Oliver Bierhof for his critical statement as it concerns his son Mesut over the controversy that followed after a picture of Mesut and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan went into circulation. After the German national team “The Mannschaft” early exit from Russia 2018, the team manager Oliver Bierhoff took a critical position on how best they should have dealt with Mesut Özil. Speaking during an interview with the daily newspaper “Die Welt”, the 50-year-old talked about whether the Arsenal midfielder’s exclusion from the German national team to the world cup in Russia as a result of the Erdogan affair would have been justified.
“We have never compelled players in the German national team to do anything, but we always tried to convince them on one thing, but with Özil we did not succeed, and so far, one would have had to consider whether to give it up on a sporting level,” said Bierhoff.
I think the fact that Mesut and Ilkay took the pictures did not bother the team so much, but the debate was sustainable, and in retrospect, I would try to clarify this issue even more clearly,” Bierhoff said.
Bierhoff continued in the interview that “Mesut could not say what was expected of him for definite and obvious reasons”. Even this statement Bierhoff did not specify. Gündogan, however, had “spoken” and “also very open,” said the 1996 European champion. “Nevertheless, he has also been and continues to be harshly criticised.”
In the run-up to the World Cup, Özil and his team-mate Ilkay Gündogan caused a scandal by sharing photos with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Both players were heavily criticised in Germany by football fans and politicians, but despite the incidence, both players were selected by trainer Joachim Low for the finals. Gündogan cleared himself before the tournament regarding the events, but Özil did not and is yet to speak about the whole saga. However, he has shared via Twitter and Instagram, where he has millions of followers private photos and messages. Most recently, he posted a picture from his vacation point in Greece and thanked his fans for always making him smile even when the world turns upside down. But his father, Mustafa has spoken, he spoke with German newspaper “Bild”. His main message: “If I were in Mesut’s shoes, I would resign.
Mustafa Özil makes no secret of the fact that the debate has hit him hard. Although both have had minimal contact since 2013 when he stopped acting as Mesut’s representative, he still has him close to his heart.
“I thought when I saw the photo that it was not such a good idea, but I did not think: Oh, everything will collapse now. It was not the first time that Mesut will pose for a photo with Erdogan, I knew that was not a political statement from him, or I would say it was politeness. I must tell you that Mesut is a shy person, very shy, how could he refuse if a man like Erdogan asks him for a photo? That would have made Mesut appear extremely rude and disrespectful. He also took pictures with Angela Merkel. ”
Mustafa further explains that Özil is an athlete who “has nothing to do with politics.” He explains his silence till date: “He is sad, disappointed and offended, and that his supporters booed him before the World Cup in Austria, is something he can not understand.”
“The German football federation has failed to carry out clear crisis management. To say that you had to think about dropping Mesut for the world cup is a bad joke” Mustafa Ozil added.
He continued by criticising the German football federation (DFB) and those responsible for the national team, for its poor communication and failure to put a quick stop to the topic before the world cup. “At least I would have liked the DFB to come up with a solution together with Mesut and Ilkay on how to end this topic. Oliver Bierhoff said something here, and Joachim Löw said something there, and then the President said something else all in an attempt to exonerate themselves from blames, while Mesut is silent – that was not good crisis management.”
The father is irked that his son Mesut has been primarily blamed for Germany’s failure in Russia: “This has of course once again stirred up the anger, but one can not single out my son alone. There are 23 players in the squad. The whole team has failed, not a just a single player. To blame Mesut or Ilkay Gündogan is nonsense, it’s far too cheap! ”
Mustafa ended by saying that if he were in a position to advise Mesut, he would ask him to retire from international football. “If I were in his place, I would say: Thank you, but that’s it!