The president of Germany’s football federation says he made mistakes in handling a controversy over Mesut Ozil’s photo with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but is rejecting accusations of racism.
Ozil announced his retirement from Germany’s national team on Sunday. He criticized the federation, president Reinhard Grindel, fans and media for what he regarded as racism in treating people with Turkish roots. He defended the pre-World Cup meeting with Erdogan, who draws widespread criticism in Germany for being increasingly authoritarian.
Grindel said on Thursday he regretted the federation’s criticism of the photo “was abused for racist slogans.”
He added: “In retrospect, I as president should have said unambiguously what is self-evident for me personally and for us all as a federation: Every form of racist hostility is intolerable and unacceptable.”