Borussia Monchengladbach’s Ibrahima Traore says he does not believe that Mesut Ozil’s summer meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdogan was politically motivated.

The meeting ahead of the World Cup in Russia caused significant fallout which has still not settled some three months later. Ozil has retired from international football citing allegations of racist treatment that have been denied by most of the white players in the German squad who repeatedly miss the point (that I explain again below).

“I do not think that Ozil deliberately wanted to commit to Erdogan’s policies,” Traore said in an interview with Goal & Spox. “Above all, the timing was unfortunate considering what is happening politically in Germany.

ibrahima traore
MOENCHENGLADBACH, GERMANY – AUGUST 02: Ibrahima Traore of Borussia Moenchengladbach poses during the team presentation at Borussia Park on August 2, 2018 in Moenchengladbach, Germany. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

“For me, football is football and politics is politics. If both are mixed, something like this can happen. It’s clear that this story has massively harmed the national team.

“Germany has played politics at the World Cup, not football, and that can never go well. If there is a problem between two parties, the one who doesn’t talk always loses. Then if you talk about it, it’s too late.”

Mesut Ozil held his tongue for the majority of the summer before releasing his explosive statement that accused the Dfb of racist treatment. The last we heard of this story, Joachim Low and the Dfb were complaining that Ozil wouldn’t meet with them for what are perfectly understandable reasons.

He has levied a charge of racial discrimination against the federation and the likes of Low and Max Grindel have been more upset that Ozil won’t speak to them than about his allegations.

Robert Enke wife
HANOVER, GERMANY – OCTOBER 10: Reinhard Grindel (l) and Teresa Enke, wife of former German national goalkeeper Robert Enke (not pictured), present the ‘EnkeApp’ during a press conference at HDI-Arena on October 10, 2016 in Hanover, Germany. Robert Enke committed suicide on November 10, 2009, following severe depression. Teresa Enke initiated the ‘Robert-Enke-Stiftung’ to fight against depressions inside professional sports. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Bongarts/Getty Images)

“I think that [Özil] should not have refused the meeting,” Grindel told the German TV broadcaster, ZDF. “When the criticism is so serious in a press release, you must agree to also speak on the subject.”

Following the non-meeting, Low told reporters at a UEFA meeting in Nyon, “Mesut was not there, and thus we must accept it that he currently does not want to talk to us.”

This isn’t even the first time Low has complained about this and the German publication Bild tried to spin this as Unai Emery blocking the meeting, a claim the Arsenal coach denied.

While Ilkay Gundogan has backed up Ozil’s view of events over the summer and Jerome Boateng has called criticism of the player ‘unfair’, Toni Kroos has joined the likes of Uli Hoeness, Joachim Low, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker and others in denying racism is a problem.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 17: Germany players show their dejection following Mexico's first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Mexico at Luzhniki Stadium on June 17, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – JUNE 17: Germany players show their dejection following Mexico’s first goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Germany and Mexico at Luzhniki Stadium on June 17, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Interesting groupings there, I’m sure you would agree.

“I think that it [the situation surrounding Ozil’s claims] doesn’t say anything about German football,” Kroos told reporters at a news conference.

“Respectively, for years we have been proving the opposite of what has been said. This was an individual case, a special one to which I expressed my opinion about a few weeks ago.

“Particularly the racism charges against the DFB and the president, I can only refuse in my opinion.

“Everything that happened around it, in the stadiums or in other statements, I did not comment on, but only the accusations against the DFB and the president, which is part of the DFB.

“And this is absolutely to be rejected. In this form and harshness, it was not appropriate.

“I think we have proved the contrary for years, and we as a national team have been a role model for all society on how it [integration] can work.

“Players of every culture were welcome and [we] built together a team. That’s all on this topic.”

45-minute read: Mesut Ozil – A casualty of a divided world

Take it slowly

KAZAN, RUSSIA - JUNE 27: Mesut Oezil of Germany looks dejected following his sides defeat in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Korea Republic and Germany at Kazan Arena on June 27, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images, )
KAZAN, RUSSIA – JUNE 27: Mesut Oezil of Germany looks dejected following his sides defeat in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Korea Republic and Germany at Kazan Arena on June 27, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Let’s take this slowly for those, like Kroos, who are struggling with this. I’ve said it all before but I’m going to keep repeating it until these people grasp how it works.

Mesut Ozil charged the DfB with racism, Ilkay Gundogan said he suffered racial abuse. Neither said there was racial abuse within the squad.

gundogan abuse

Reinhard Grindel, the DfB president even admitted he should have done more to protect Ozil yet many still have an impossible time wrapping their heads around a simple concept – just because you do not see or experience discrimination, it does not mean it does not exist!

Nor can many tell the difference between ‘racism’ and ‘racial abuse’.

KAZAN, RUSSIA - JUNE 27: Mesut Oezil of Germany looks dejected following his sides defeat in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Korea Republic and Germany at Kazan Arena on June 27, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images, )
KAZAN, RUSSIA – JUNE 27: Mesut Oezil of Germany looks dejected following his sides defeat in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Korea Republic and Germany at Kazan Arena on June 27, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images, )

Those who suffer from any sort of discrimination, be it because of their race, gender or sexuality are well-tuned to picking it up, even in its most subtle forms. People like every Bayern Munich puppet who has spoken against Ozil, Per Mertesacker, and Lukas Podolski who also said racism is not a problem in the German camp, don’t experience the discrimination so rarely, if ever, notice it because it doesn’t concern them.

This isn’t a hard concept to grasp if people would stop taking it as a personal accusation that they are racists and understand that it is possible for someone to feel discriminated against without you noticing. That doesn’t mean you are actively participating, but please, for the sake of common sense, can we stop telling people from minorities what they feel and experience doesn’t exist or matter.

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From a now-deleted thread

If Ozil was as mentally weak as his detractors would have us believe, then the events of this summer should have destroyed him. He has been all but abandoned by his home country that worshipped him for years, blamed for their failure at the World Cup despite helping win it for them four years earlier, left to stand on his own as he challenges racism, and had to watch as his character is dissected and devalued in public across the world.

Who wouldn’t crumble under the weight of that?

45-minute read: Mesut Ozil – A casualty of a divided world

But, in fact, Ozil hasn’t crumbled. He has, however, been left swinging by the majority of his national teammates and that must feel like an unbelievably lonely place to be right now.

We don’t all live in the same world. It’s time more people realised that.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.