Thomas Muller claimed there’s no question of racism in sport or the German national team, when talking about Mesut Özil’s departure from international football.
For those somehow still unaware of the background to this story, Özil received a disproportionate amount of the blame for Germany’s early World Cup exit as a result of a photo with Turkish president Erdogan before the tournament. Many in the media focused in on Özil’s Turkish background, and stopped treating him like any other German player.
Then, last month, Özil revealed on Instagram that he would no longer play for Germany “whilst [he has] this feeling of racism and disrespect”. Although not technically a retirement, it certainly feels like he’s cut ties for the foreseeable future.
Speaking on the subject, Muller claimed it’s all been blown out of proportion.
“It’s a hypocritical discussion, which the media is supportive of,” he told Spiegel. “The DFB only wanted to calm things down, but it was repeatedly asked again and again, blowing up the topic.
“For us players, the topic was never as strong as it was made, and we should finally end the discussion. There can be no question of racism in sport and in the national team.”
It’s difficult to say exactly what Muller means by these comments, but if he really is claiming racism isn’t a problem in the German national team, he’s directly contradicting Özil’s statement. Even worse, if he’s saying racism is not an issue in sport, he’s directly contradicting what most of us can see with our own eyes.
Let’s hope it was just a misunderstanding, because no player holding such backwards views should play any part in representing their country on the international stage.