German Football Association (DFB) president Reinhard Grindel on Sunday apologized for his handling of Arsenal star Mesut Ozil’s woes following his country’s disastrous campaign at the 2018 FIFA World Cup staged in Russia.
Ozil, 29, announced his retirement from international football last month, alleging that he had faced “racism and disrespect” because of his Turkish roots.
The Arsenal midfielder was a key member of the Die Mannschaft team that lifted the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
While in Russia, a picture of Ozil alongside Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan surfaced on social media, prompting a strong backlash from some Germans, owing to the nature of the two countries’ frosty relationship.
In his resignation statement last month, Ozil, who has Turkish roots, also accused the DFB and Grindel of failing to back him in the row over the photo.
Speaking on Sunday, Grindel said he should have handled things differently.
“I should have positioned myself more clearly given the racist attacks from some corners and I should have put myself in front of Mesut Ozil,” he said.
“Such attacks are unacceptable. I should have found clear words.”
“I am sorry he feels let down by the DFB,” Grindel added.