BERLIN, Germany - Germany captain Manuel Neuer has denied that Mesut Ozil was the victim of racism within the German FA (DFB), but admitted the fiasco has taken a toll on the players.
Ozil quit international football last month amid the furore over his meeting and photo opportunity in May with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which raised questions about Ozil's loyalty to Germany.
Having been booed by German fans in pre-World Cup friendlies, Ozil quit the national team following Germany's shock early exit from the World Cup in Russia and with his parting shot he accused DFB president Reinhard Grindel of racism. However, Bayern Munich star Neuer denies any claims of racism within the national team.
"We've always tried to integrate all the players and we've also done everything for our teammates to make them feel good going into games," said Neuer at Bayern Munich's pre-season training camp in southern Bavaria.
The world-class goalkeeper admitted Ozil's comments have taken a toll on those who still play for Germany. "There has been a lot of back and forth with much written and said about it. Of course, it was very stressful for those who read about it," added Neuer.