Neuer denies Özil’s claims of racism within Germany set-up
BERLIN - Agence France Presse
Özil quit international football last month amid the furore over his meeting and photo opportunity in May with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which raised questions about Özil’s loyalty to Germany.
Having been booed by German fans in pre-World Cup friendlies, Özil quit the national team following Germany’s shock early exit from the finals in Russia and with his parting shot he accused DFB president Reinhard Grindel of racism.
"We’ve always tried to integrate all the players and we’ve also done everything for our teammates to make them feel good going into games," said Neuer at Bayern’s pre-season training camp in southern Bavaria.
The world-class goalkeeper admitted Özil’s comments have taken a toll on those who still play for Germany.
"There has been a lot of back and forth with much written and said about it. Of course, it was very stressful for those who read about it," added Neuer.
Only a few Germany stars have spoken out about the scandal and head coach Joachim Löw has yet to comment.
"In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose," wrote the Arsenal midfielder, whose comments sparked a racism storm in Germany and triggered fierce debate about integration.
Özil was singled out by some corners of the German media as a reason for Germany’s poor World Cup performances, but Grindel, who has refused calls to resign, later refuted his claims of racism within the DFB.
"Of course we accept this decision."
Following the Özil furore and Germany’s woeful World Cup displays in the group stages, Neuer has called for a fresh start, especially for their next game against new world champions France in Munich on September 6.
"We will have to wait and see how things shape up.
"The fact is that some things need to be changed.