The president of the German Football Association has expressed his regret about the circumstances that led to Mesut Ozil’s retirement from international football.
The Arsenal midfielder announced last weekend he would no longer be representing Germany, accusing the DFB of treating him with “racism and disrespect”.
Writing on dfb.de, Reinhard Grindel said: “Mesut Ozil’s decision to step down from the Germany national team has triggered a debate about racism in general and about football’s capabilities for integration in particular. As DFB president, I do not wish to shy away from this debate.
“Our performance at the World Cup called many things into question. I of course ask myself what I could have done better during that time.
“I won’t pretend that this personal criticism hasn’t affected me, but I feel even more sorry for my colleagues, the many volunteers at grassroots level and the staff at the DFB, who have been linked with racism. It’s something I firmly reject for both the association and myself personally.
“The DFB’s values are also my own; diversity, solidarity, anti-discrimination and integration are all values and beliefs that are close to my heart.
“We live our values. That is why we, as the DFB, questioned the photo with Turkish president Erdogan. I very much regret that this has been misused for racist slogans.
“Looking back, as president I should been unequivocally clear about something that is a given for me as a person and for us all as an association: any form of racial hostility will not be accepted or tolerated under any circumstances.
“That was the case for Jerome Boateng, that is the case for Mesut Ozil, and it is the same for any player at grassroots level that has a migrant background.”