Mathieu Flamini has praised Mesut Özil’s stand against the German FA, calling on other players to use their social influence for good in the same way.
Last summer, Mesut Özil suffered rafts of abuse from Germany supporters as their team struggled with a particularly poor World Cup campaign. Their anger quickly turned into something more sinister, with Özil personally reporting instances of discrimination from fans and the media in the country.
After he received no support from the German FA on the matter, with higher-ups actually speaking out against their own player, Özil made the decision to take a stand and retire from the national team.
Former Gunner Mathieu Flamini told the English media this weekend that he supports his old teammate in that stand.
“It was not easy for him to stand up for his beliefs and for a real cause,” Flamini said in The Sunday Telegraph. “What he did by resigning from the German national team was prove to everyone that social equality is very important to him.
“We [footballers] have such massive reach on social media. We have a social responsibility. We have to use it to be able to drive change in a positive way, so why not stand up for the environment and social quality? If Mesut, one of the top athletes in the world, is facing discrimination, then it must be happening elsewhere.”
“We want to create a community, create a movement, create a voice. It’s not easy for many people to understand climate change or social equality, but most of the people following these athletes are the next generation, so it is our role to use our influence and to have a positive impact.
“We won’t necessarily change the world, but everyone can have an impact in their own community by doing small things. By adding them all up you can make big things happen.”
It’s a real shame that in 2019 we still have players who need to quit their football team over events that have nothing to do with football. There’s no doubt that Özil enjoyed playing for Germany, and that he was good at it, yet he doesn’t get to do so anymore through no fault of his own. Let’s hope it at least helps to make a difference.