July 23 (UPI) -- Arsenal star Mesut Ozil announced that he will no longer play for the German national team, citing racism and disrespect from multiple parties in the country.
Ozil posted a lengthy statement Sunday on social media to make the announcement. The 29-year-old did not register a goal or an assist for Germany at the 2018 World Cup. He played in just two matches for the squad, who lost in the group stage. Ozil has 23 goals in 92 career appearances for Germany. The star midfielder was born in Germany but his parents are Turkish.
German politicians called for Ozil to be dropped from the squad after he took a photo alongside Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May while in London. The photo was released a day before Germany announced it's provisional World Cup squad. Ozil said the photo-op had no political intentions. He also said that he would have taken the picture regardless of who the president was at the time.
Ozil said he would not accept German media outlets blaming his dual heritage and the photo for a bad World Cup. He said the newspapers tried to turn the country against him and he was "abandoned" and "renounced" by partners and sponsorships due to the photo.
But Ozil said the issue that frustrated him most was mistreatment from the German Football Association (DFB) over the past couple of months, specifically from DFB President Reihad Grindel. Ozil met with Germany President Frank-Walter Steinmeier before the World Cup and released a joint statement regarding the issues.
"I will no longer stand for being a scapegoat for his [Grindel's] incompetence and inability to do his job properly," Ozil said. "I know he wanted em out the team after the picture, and publicized his view on Twitter without any thinking or consultation, but Joachim Low and Oliver Bierhoff stood up for me and backed me."
"In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose. This is because despite paying taxes in Germany, donating facilities to German schools and winning the World Cup with Germany in 2014, I am still not accepted into society. I am treated as being 'different.'"
Ozil also called out German politician Bernd Holzhauer and chief of German theater Werner Steer.
"These people have used my picture with President Erdogan as an opportunity to express their previously hidden racist tendencies, and this is dangerous for society. They are no better than the German fan who told me after the game against Sweden: 'Ozil, [expletive] off you Turkish [expletive], piss off you Turkish pig.'"
The Arsenal star also said he received hate mail, threatening calls and comments on social media directed at him and his family.
"It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events, I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect," Ozil said.
"I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don't. This decision has been extremely difficult to make because I have always given everything for my teammates, the coaching staff and the good people of Germany. But when high-ranking DFB officials treat me as they did, disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into political propaganda, then enough is enough. That is not why I play football, and I will not sit back and do nothing about it. Racism should never, ever be accepted."