German FA boss wishes he gave Özil more support over ‘racist attacks’

The under-fire president of the German Football Association (DFB), admitted on Sunday that he should have given Mesut Ozil more support when the midfielder was the target of "racist attacks".

German FA boss wishes he gave Özil more support over 'racist attacks'
German FA boss Reinhard Grindel still said he would have liked a statement from Mesut Ozil distancing himself from Erdogan's politics. Photo: Andreas Arnold / dpa
“I should have positioned myself more clearly given the racist attacks from some corners and should have put myself in front of Mesut Özil,” Reinhard Grindel told German daily Bild on Sunday. “Such attacks are unacceptable. I should have found clear words.”
Arsenal midfielder Özil, 29, announced his shock retirement from international duty last month in the wake of Germany's World Cup debacle.
He complained of facing “racism and disrespect”, due to his Turkish roots, and specifically took aim at Grindel in a three-page statement.
After Özil and Ilkay Gündoğan, who also has Turkish family, met Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May, questions were raised about the pair's loyalty to Germany.
Gündoğan and Özil, who were both born in Germany, were booed in a pre-World Cup defeat to Austria.
“In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Özil  wrote damningly, sparking fierce debate about integration in Germany.
But while Gündoğan made a statement to insist the Erdogan meeting had no political motivation, Özil kept silent for two months before walking away from Germany duty. 
In his parting statement, he accused Grindel of failing to back him in the row over the Erdogan meeting and felt blamed for Germany's woeful World Cup display, finishing bottom of their group.
There have been calls for Grindel, 56, who has been head of the DFB since 2016, to resign.
Grindel admits he should have handled things differently, but rejected Özil's claims that he was made a scapegoat for the World Cup debacle.
Sweeping changes 
“I am sorry he feels let down by the DFB,” Grindel said. “But it is important to emphasis that after the World Cup, I never commented on his performances.
“For me it was always clear that we win together and lose together. To blame a single player for going out would be absurd.
“After the photos with president Erdogan, Ilkay Gundogan made a clear statement. I would have liked that also from Özil, because I know from conversations with fans that they also had questions about it.
“However, this must not be misunderstood as a criticism of his playing performance.”
Grindel said the door was not closed for Özil to play for Germany again under head coach Joachim Löw, who has always supported the attacking midfielder.
“The board (of the DFB) and the national coach would need to discuss that together,” said Grindel. “But so far there has not been a discussion between Joachim Löw and Mesut Özil, which I know would be very important to the national coach.”
Löw has promised sweeping changes to the squad he will announce on August 29 to face World Cup winners France in Munich on September 6.
Grindel wants to bring the Germany team closer to the public with cheaper tickets for home internationals and open training sessions.
Germany's World Cup slogan – 'Best Never Rest' – was criticised by fans and Grindel admits the marketing around the team hit the wrong note.
“I also think the concept around the term 'die Mannschaft' (the team) is perceived as very artificial. We should put that to the test,” Grindel added.


German footballer Mesut Özil and teammate targeted by ‘armed car-jackers’

German footballer Mesut Özil and his Arsenal teammate Sead Kolasinac were attacked by 'knife-wielding car-jackers' in a terrifying ordeal which was captured on video and circulated on social media.

German footballer Mesut Özil and teammate targeted by 'armed car-jackers'
German footballer Mesut Özil and his Arsenal teammate Sead Kolasinac. Photo: DPA

In the footage, the Premier League club's Bosnian defender Kolasinac is seen leaping from the vehicle to confront the masked aggressors, who had pulled up alongside the car on mopeds in the Golders Green district of north London on Thursday evening.

Both attackers appeared to brandish knives at the 26-year-old Kolasinac. A YouTube video by the German football channel TeamEvil shows, through repeat footage, how Kolasinac fought off one of the attackers. 

“We have been in contact with both players and they are fine,” said a spokesman for Arsenal.

Police confirmed that they had responded to reports of an attempted robbery.

“It was reported that suspects on motorbikes had attempted to rob a man who was driving a car,” a spokesman for the Met Police told AFP.

“The driver, along with his passenger, managed to get away unharmed and travelled to a restaurant in Golders Green, where they were spoken to by officers.

“There have been no arrests. Enquiries continue.”

Kolasinac and midfielder Özil are not the first footballers to be targeted on London's streets.

In 2016, Andy Carroll, a former West Ham player, was threatened at gunpoint on his way home from training.

Controversy last year

In June former German international footballer Özil was married in Istanbul with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his best man.

READ ALSO: Five key dates in the Mesut Özil saga

The 30-year-old, who has Turkish family roots, sparked controversy last year when he was photographed with Erdogan, raising questions about the footballer's loyalty to Germany on the eve of their disastrous 2018 World Cup campaign.

After 92 appearances for Germany, including a key role in the 2014 World Cup victory, Özil suddenly quit the national squad last July, accusing German football officials of racism.

READ ALSO: DFB president Grindel admits to mistakes in Özil affair