BERLIN - Bayern Munich president, Uli Hoeness, has hit out at Mesut Özil, the day after the midfielder quit the Germany team amid the fall-out of pictures taken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before the World Cup.
"I am happy the whole thing is over," Hoeness told reporters Monday as Bayern prepared to fly to the United States for a pre-season tour. "He has been playing crap for years. The last tackle he won was before the 2014 World Cup. And now he hides himself and his poor performance behind this photo."
Germany - defending champions having won the world title, with Özil, in 2014 - exited the World Cup in Russia in the group stage. But Özil felt singled out for the debacle for off-field reasons having been harshly criticized in the media and encouraged to speak out on the Erdogan affair by German federation (DFB) president Reinhard Grindel and team manager Oliver Bierhoff.
In a lengthy three-part statement issued Sunday, Özil attacked Grindel personally, elements of the German media and what he perceived as hypocrisy from the DFB. Former international team-mate Jerome Boateng responded on Twitter Monday, by saying: "It was a pleasure, Abi (the Turkish for brother)," and using hashtags referring to the European under-21 title and 2014 World Cup the pair won together.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is thankful to Özil for what the player contributed to the national team, a government spokeswoman says. "The Chancellor values Mesut Özil highly. Mesut Özil is a fantastic footballer who has done a lot for the national team," the spokeswoman said. "Mesut Özil has now made a decision that must be respected."
The past couple of weeks have given me time to reflect, and time to think over the events of the last few months. Consequently, I want to share my thoughts and feelings about what has happened. pic.twitter.com/WpWrlHxx74
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) July 22, 2018
Özil, a World Cup winner in 2014, quit after feeling singled out for criticism following the World Cup group stage exit. He had caused controversy by posing for controversial pictures taken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before the tournament in Russia.
"Germany is a cosmopolitan country and the integration of people with a migration background is a key task of the federal government," the spokeswoman said.
Surreal that someone who has done so much for his country on and off the pitch has been treated with such disrespect. Well done @MesutOzil1088 for standing up to this behaviour! https://t.co/w1dvWOHFYN
— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) July 23, 2018