The photos that Germany players Mesut Özil and Ilkay Gündogan had taken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set off a heated debate, culminating with Özil quitting the national team. Here’s who said what, when:May 14:
The DFB as a matter of course respects the special situation of our players with migration backgrounds. However, football and the DFB (German football association) stand for values that are not sufficiently respected by Mr. Erdogan.
“Therefore it is not good that our national team players were misused as part of election campaign maneuver. With this move, the two players certainly did not further our work on the issue of integration.” – DFB President Reinhard Grindel via Twitter
“Now as before I have not doubt about Mesut’s and Ilkay’s clear commitment to playing for the German national team, as well as the fact that they identify with our values.” – National team general manager Oliver Bierhoff
“It was not our intention to use this photo to make a political statement, and certainly not to take part in an election campaign.” – Ilkay Gündogan
“People can make mistakes and we need to keep things in proportion. I believe that both know that they made a mistake.” – Reinhard Grindel
“This was unfortunate. When you play for Germany, you also represent the country and German values.” – Germany coach Joachim Löw
“One can have more than one homeland, and find a new homeland. The Federal Republic of Germany has proved this to be true for millions of people, and this has enriched us.” – German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Facebook following a meeting with Gündogan and Özil.
“Both players approached us and wanted to clear things up. This was fine with me, particularly before the start of training camp. Both players stressed that it wasn’t a political statement. It was Ilkay’s idea to visit the German president. So as far as I am concerned, things have been discussed and cleared up.” – Joachim Löw
“There is absolutely no problem within the team.” – Joachim Löw
“Due to our Turkish roots we still have strong ties to Turkey. This doesn’t bean that we have ever claimed that Mr. Steinmeier isn’t our president or that Ms. Merkel is not our chancellor. That’s why the idea of it being a political statement never occurred to us.” – Ilkay Gündogan.
“I believe that the two players didn’t think about what reaction would be to the picture with President Erdogan.” – Angela Merkel
“At the beginning, it did bother the team a little bit; it was even a bit of a burden.” – goalkeeper and national team captain Manuel Neuer
“We have never forced members of the German national team to do anything, instead trying to convince them of the wisdom of a certain action. With Mesut, we weren’t successful. And in view of this fact, perhaps one should have considered doing without him in the sporting sense.” – Oliver Bierhoff
“I am sorry that I clearly didn’t express myself as well as I could and these comments have been misinterpreted. They by no means meant that with hindsight, it was a mistake to take Mesut [to the World Cup in Russia].” Oliver Bierhoff
“It’s true that Mesut has not yet commented on the issue. This has disappointed a lot of fans who have questions and expect an answer. They have the right to an answer. So I am convinced that Mesut will issue a statement when he returns from vacation. This would also be in his own interest.” – Reinhard Grindel.
“The DFB’s catastrophic crisis management the wake of the Erdogan pictures has provided an opening for attacks from the right and the debate, which we had hoped had been closed, as to whether German-Turks are really part of our society or always remain foreigners. This has set us back years.” – the former coleader of Germany’s Green Party, Cem Özdemir
“It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events, I will no longer be playing for Germany at the international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect.” –Mesut Özil via Twitter.