Wednesday, October 17

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World Cup

Mesut Ozil defends controversial meeting with Turkey's president

Mesut Ozil insists that he has no regrets about posing for a photo with Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan prior to the World Cup.

Arsenal and Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil has defended his actions after being criticised for meeting with Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ozil and Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan posed for a photo with Erdogan, which did not go down well with the German Football Federation nor the local press.

The photo was taken shortly before the World Cup, leading to iconic figures Stefan Effenberg and Oliver Bierhoff questioning whether either player should have been selected for the tournament.

Taking to Twitter on Sunday afternoon, though, Ozil hit back at his critics and insists that he has no regrets over what was described as a political stunt due to Erdogan's controversial status.

"In may, I met President Erdogan in London, during a charitable and educational event," he posted on the social media site. "We first met in 2010 after he and Angela Merkel watched the Germany vs Turkey match together in Berlin. Since then, out paths have crossed a lot of times around the globe.

"I'm aware that the picture of us caused a huge response in the German media, and whilst some people may accuse me of lying or being deceitful, the picture we took had no political intentions. As I said, my mother has never let me lose sight of my ancestry, heritage and family traditions. For me, having a picture with President Erdogan wasn't about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family's country.

"My job is a football player and not a politician, and out meeting was not an endorsement of any policies. In fact, we spoke about the same topic that we do every time we have met – football – as he too was a player in his youth. Although the German media have portrayed something different, the truth is that not meeting with the President would have been disrespecting the roots of my ancestors, who I know would be proud of where I am today.

"For me, it didn't matter who was President, it mattered that it was the President. Having respect for political office is a view I'm sure both the Queen and Prime Minister Theresa May share when they too hosted Erdogan in London. Whether it had been the Turkish or German president, my actions would've been no different."

Ozil played twice for Germany in their first-round exit from Russia 2018.

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1Manchester CityMan City86202131820
2Chelsea86201851320
3Liverpool86201531220
4Arsenal86021910918
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs8602157818
6Bournemouth85121612416
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves843196315
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd84131314-113
9Watford84131112-113
10Leicester CityLeicester84041412212
11Everton83321312112
12Burnley82241012-28
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton8224913-48
14Crystal Palace821559-47
15West Ham UnitedWest Ham8215813-57
16Southampton8125614-85
17Fulham8125921-125
18Huddersfield TownHuddersfield8035417-133
19Newcastle UnitedNewcastle8026613-72
20Cardiff CityCardiff8026417-132
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