The German FA have made it known that they are not pleased with Mesut Ozil for posing with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan is in the UK as part of a state visit and he was pictured with Ozil, Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan and Everton’s Cenk Tousan, who all presented the wannbe dictator with signed shirts.
The stunt comes in the run-up to an election in Turkey where Erdogan is hopeful of increasing his grip in a country where he has already imprisoned more than 150 journalists since a failed coup in the summer of 2016.
“The DFB of course respects the special situation for our players with migrant backgrounds, but football and the DFB stands for values that Mr Erdogan does not sufficiently respect,” DFB president Reinhard Grindel said.
“Therefore, it is not a good thing that our internationals have let themselves be exploited for his election campaign stunt. It certainly hasn’t helped the DFB’s integration efforts.”
Oliver Bierhoff, general manager of the German national team, added, “I still have absolutely no doubts about Mesut and Ilkay’s commitment to playing for the Germany national team and how much they identify with our values.
“They were unaware of the symbolism of these pictures, but we cannot endorse it, and we will discuss the matter with the players.”
Ozil missed Arsenal’s final games of the season with a back injury but is expected to be fit enough to play at the World Cup.
The problem was one that he was carrying all season, according to his agent.
Joachim Low will announce Germany’s preliminary squad today (Tuesday).