Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Turkey Slams 'Scandalous' German Criticism of Footballers' Erdogan Meeting

Turkey Slams 'Scandalous' German Criticism of Footballers' Erdogan Meeting

"The DFB of course respects the special situation for our players with migrant backgrounds, but football and the DFB stands for values that Mr Erdogan does not sufficiently respect", Grindel said.

While a seemingly innocuous occurrence, DFB chiefs Reinhard Grindel says the association have taken issue with the pair appearing in the photos one month ahead of the 2018 World Cup finals, given Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian stance in recent years. "That's why it's not good our national team players allowed themselves to be misused for his election campaign maneuvers".

But he added the players "didn't help the DFB's integration work".

Mr Erdogan faces re-election next month and has been accused of using his 3-day visit to the United Kingdom to campaign for the votes of expatriate Turks.

"It's odd that German footballers would let themselves be used in the election campaign of a Turkish president who has so recently made disparaging remarks about Germany", Hans-Peter Friedrich, deputy speaker of the German parliament said.

He described Erdogan, a footballer in his youth, as a "passionate football fan" and someone who had made a huge contribution to the game in Turkey.

Ozil and Gundogan, along with Everton forward Cenk Tosun, were pictured presenting Erdogan, who has been president of Turkey since 2014, with signed shirts from their respective clubs.

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"It is a bad mistake to mix politics with football as can be seen from the German president's example".

"The Turkish Football Federation will engage in no such behaviour and will continue its bid for Euro 2024 to the end within the rules of UEFA", he said.

Gundogan insisted he "didn't want to make a political statement with this photo and even less so campaign for his election".

Speaking on Tuesday, Germany coach Joachim Low said Ozil and Gundogan - both included in his initial World Cup squad - must learn from the Erdogan controversy.

"We've always been clear that we want Turkey to uphold its global obligations, including respect for freedom of expression and political freedoms", he said.

"I don't think we should involve them, they are Turkish but are playing for another national team. It will be a lesson for them".

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