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'Scapegoat' Ozil should quit German team: father

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    Agence France-Presse

Berlin, Germany | Sun, July 8, 2018 | 07:26 pm
 'Scapegoat' Ozil should quit German team: father Germany's midfielder Mesut Ozil reacts at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group F football match between South Korea and Germany at the Kazan Arena in Kazan on June 27, 2018. Germany have been eliminated from a World Cup in the first round for the first time since the Second World War, as the holders are knocked out in the group stage for the fourth time this century. (Agence France -Presse/Luiz Acosta)

The father of Mesut Ozil said Sunday his son should quit Germany's national squad after he was "made the scapegoat" for Die Mannschaft's shock first-round defeat at the World Cup.

Ozil, 29, has come in for hefty criticism in Germany after the World Champions crashed out in Russia, finishing bottom of their group.

Pressure had already been mounting on the Arsenal midfielder in the World Cup run-up over a controversial photograph with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that was seized on to question his loyalty to Germany.

This handout picture taken and released on May 13, 2018 and released on May 14, 2018 by the Turkish Presidential Press office shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan(second right) posing for a photo with Turkish football players Ilkay Gundogan (left), Mesut Ozil (2nd left) and Cenk Tosun (right) in London. This handout picture taken and released on May 13, 2018 and released on May 14, 2018 by the Turkish Presidential Press office shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan(second right) posing for a photo with Turkish football players Ilkay Gundogan (left), Mesut Ozil (2nd left) and Cenk Tosun (right) in London. (Agence France -Presse/KAYHAN OZER / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE )

On Thursday, Germany's team boss Oliver Bierhoff sparked a new round of outcry over a statement suggesting Ozil, who has Turkish roots, should have been dropped after his failure to publicly clear up the Erdogan meeting.

"This statement is insolent. In my opinion, it is aimed at saving one's own skin," said the mid-fielder's father Mustafa Ozil in an interview with Bild am Sonntag.

Bierhoff later backtracked, apologising that he "was wrong".

Ozil senior said he believed his son had agreed to have a photograph taken with Erdogan only out of "politeness" and that it was never meant to be a political statement.

He also defended Ozil for not having spoken out to clarify his position.

"He no longer wants to explain himself, he no longer wants to have to defend himself all the time. He has been playing for nine years in the German team... including becoming world champions with the A-team.

"He has contributed a lot for this country. It has always been: if we win, we win together. 

"But when we lose, we lose because of Ozil? He is now getting whistled at and made a scapegoat. I can understand if he feels insulted," said the midfielder's father.

Calling the treatment accorded to his son "so unfair", Ozil senior said "he needs to decide for himself. But if I were in his place, I'd say - thanks a lot but that's it!"

"The hurt has grown too strong. And who knows what'll happen at the next match. In Mesut's place, I would step down. But that's just my very personal opinion," he said.

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