Özil has ‘respect of every player,’ says Arsenal boss

Özil has ‘respect of every player,’ says Arsenal boss

SINGAPORE – Agence France-Presse
Özil has ‘respect of every player,’ says Arsenal boss

Arsenal boss Unai Emery said Mesut Özil has nothing but respect from his teammates after his decision to quit Germany’s national team over racism sparked uproar in his home country.

Emery on July 25 said Arsenal was taking pains to make sure Özil, 29, feels comfortable at the club as controversy rages in Germany over his walk-out following the World Cup in Russia.

“We want to help all the players and Mesut to feel here with us like he’s at home, like a family,” Emery, who is in his first weeks as Arsenal coach, said during a pre-season visit to Singapore.

“We are every player’s family and for him to work every day, to work well with his team-mates, is good for us... I’m very happy with him. I’m looking at every player and I think Mesut, he has here the respect of every player.”

Özil, who was born in Germany to Turkish-origin parents, said he felt “racism and disrespect” -- pointing the finger at German football authorities -- in his no-holds-barred statement released over the weekend.

The 2014 World Cup-winner said he was unfairly maligned over Germany’s group-stage exit in Russia, after some media highlighted a pre-tournament photo with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Özil wrote, adding: “Certain German newspapers are using my background and photo with President Erdogan as right-wing propaganda to further their political cause.”

Germany’s football federation swiftly denied the allegation of racism, while Erdoğan called Özil to praise his decision -- which follows a resurgence of the German far right.

“This statement by Özil and the stance he has taken is completely national and native,” Erdoğan told reporters on July 24 after speaking to Özil.

“It is well beyond all appreciation. I congratulate him, because such a racist approach due to his religion toward a young person who gave everything for the German national team, contributing to its successes, was completely unacceptable,” he added.

Turkish Football Federation (TFF) President Yıldırım Demirören also threw his support behind Özil.

“As the Turkish Football Federation president, I fully support Mesut Özil and his family, and I condiment the treatment and threats he received, and the defamatory messages sent to him because of his origins,” Demirören said in a written statement on July 24.

Özil declined to comment on July 25 as he took part in a training session at a private school in Singapore ahead of July 26’s friendly against Atletico Madrid.

“For him it’s one thing with the national team and another with us,” Emery said.

“Normality is the best thing for him and I am sure he’s going to do a big season with us this year... it’s very, very personal and here I want to help him.

“Everybody at the club is thinking like me to help him and to feel [good] here and express his quality with us.”

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech also said the players were keen to support Özil, who smashed the club’s transfer record when he moved from Real Madrid in 2013.

“What happened between him and the national team is his private matter so this is not an issue for us,” said Cech.

“It’s something which is unfortunate for him but we will try to do everything so that he feels good, that he trains well so he feels good for the season, because he’s one of the key players.”

President Erdoğan calls Özil’s stance ‘national and native’
President Erdoğan calls Özil’s stance ‘national and native’

Paulo Coelho shows support for Mesut Özil
Paulo Coelho shows support for Mesut Özil

Mesut Özil, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Germany