Looking German, Talking Turkish?
Football is a beautiful game, but it often shows us the ugly side of human existence. Ask German footballer Mesut Ozil. The ‘Assist King’ as he is fondly called, has fallen prey to racial abuse by the German Football Federation (DFB) and the local media. So strong has been the aversion against the footballer that he has been forced to retire from international football. Ozil, who is a third-generation Turkish-German, was born in the Gelsenkirchen city of Germany. The footballer was photographed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a London event in May. After Germany’s dramatic collapse and subsequent exit from the recently concluded FIFA World Cup held in Russia, the German Football Federation and local media criticised Ozil. Player bashing is normal after such a shocking performance by a team which raises high expectations. But what Ozil faced was outlandish and bizarre. His critics said that the footballer was merely looking German but was talking Turkish. Ozil received hate mails and threats and was being blamed for Germany’s disappointing performance at the World Cup. The footballer hurtfully responded on Twitter to all the hatred towards him by saying, “I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.” He also tweeted that due to the recent events of racism and disrespect, he has decided to quit playing for Germany at the international level. The Ozil incident is not a one-off incident in football. In the past, players like Mario Balotelli, Samuel Eto, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Marco Zoro and Dani Alves too have been reminded of their origins and mocked for their skin colour. It is a perplexing scenario really. The same footballers who are treated like Gods for one moment and are considered nothing in the other. The sad question hangs in the air: for how long will the human race remain tangled in this deadly web of racism?