Toni Kroos describes Mesut Ozil’s decision to retire from German football team because of racism ‘nonsense'

Luke Brown
The Independent

Toni Kroos has claimed the way his former Germany team-mate Mesut Ozil announced his retirement from international football was “not in order”, accusing the Arsenal player of “knowing very well that racism within the national team and the [German Football Federation] does not exist”.

Ozil, 29, announced his retirement from international football in July after Germany’s disappointing group stage exit at the 2018 World Cup. He said he had been the victim of “racism and disrespect” because of his Turkish roots, as well as his high-profile and controversial meeting with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan prior to the tournament.

Ozil’s surprise retirement sparked a national debate on ethnicity and multiculturalism, with several German politicians calling for reform of the Football Federation (DFB). However Kroos is insistent there is not a problem, instead accusing Ozil of talking “nonsense”.

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“Basically Mesut is a deserved international and as a player he deserved a better departure,” Kroos told Bild newspaper. "But the way he resigned was not in order.

“The parts in his statement that are rightly addressed are unfortunately overshadowed by the significantly higher amount of nonsense.

“I think he knows very well that racism within the national team and the DFB does not exist.”

Ozil won the World Cup with Germany in 2014, with supporters voting him the team’s player of the year five times since 2011.

But both Ozil and Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who is also a German of Turkish descent, came in for heavy criticism from fans and pundits when they posed for a picture with Erdogan at the end of last season.

Leading German football figures including Oliver Bierhoff and Ottmar Hitzfeld suggesting that both should not have been allowed to represent their country in Russia.

German fans jeered him and Gundogan during World Cup warmup games in May, with Ozil later accusing the DFB of failing to offer him sufficient support in the row over the photo.

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Toni Kroos has hit out at Mesut Ozil (Getty)

“In the eyes of (German FA President Reinhard) Grindel and his supporters I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Ozil wrote in his statement.

Kroos, 28, added that he has no plans to follow Ozil into international retirement.

“I will continue towards Euro 2020 and have set myself the goal of being far more successful there than in the recent past,” Kroos said.

“I had a good talk with (national team coach) Joachim Loew. We will find solutions together so that I can get a break here and there. For me that's the only way and I am thankful for Jogi's understanding.”

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