Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has slammed the recent treatment of German national team pair Mesut Özil and İlkay Gündoğan.
Özil has come under scrutiny following his decision to retire from the German national team after facing “racism and disrespect” due to his Turkish heritage.
The attacking midfielder was born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany but his Turkish roots – like those of fellow national team mates such as İlkay Gündoğan and Emre Can – are well documented.
In a fiery, brutally honest statement that followed the 29-year old’s retirement from international football, the former Real Madrid and Schalke playmaker revealed he felt as if he was being used for “political propaganda” writing: “I am a German when we win, an immigrant when we lose.”
Özil has also been the subject of further criticism for his decision to pose for a picture with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in May, leading to an excess of negative comments over his performances in the 2018 World Cup in Russia – a tournament in which truthfully, non of the German side covered themselves in glory.
The player’s statement included his thoughts on the situation following the photo opportunity, with the Arsenal man accusing Reinhard Grindel – president of the German Football Association – of failing to back him during the backlash.
Grindel has acknowledged since his feelings that he should have handled the situation differently and backed his player.
“I should have positioned myself more clearly given the racist attacks from some corners and I should have put myself in front of Mesut Özil – such attacks are unacceptable,” he admitted.
In a recent interview, Jürgen Klopp took the opportunity to slam the treatment of the midfielder, calling the situation a “classic example of absolute misinformation and, of course, complete nonsense!”
“In politics, little things have always been blown up and big things pushed away in order to continue,” Klopp explained.
“Normally, intelligent people tend to hold back because it is not easy to say the right thing. I would count myself (among them) too. All those who have no idea are very loud in these conversations.”
‘”I know İlkay Gündoğan very well, I know Emre Can and Nuri Sahin very well. I do not know Mesut so well, but I would like to take him home. I do not doubt these guys, at least about their loyalty to our homeland.”
“The difference is that they just have one more thing (in their heritage). Where is the problem? That’s beautiful.”
The statement from the Liverpool manager represents a massive middle finger to racism that is sadly, still all too prevalent in football.
As per his reputation as an all-inclusive, culturally supportive manager, Klopp further explained how cultural diversity in football is a beautiful thing.
“Cultural diversity, we all thought it was really cool around the 2006 World Cup. I saw these fantastic commercials where the parents of Gerald Asamoah and Mario Gomez had a barbecue party together,” Klopp reminisced.
“We all sighed for how great that works. And now two guys are seduced by politically quite intelligent people to have a photo, and then have relatively few opportunities to say what they want 100 per cent right.”
“That’s why I find this discussion hypocritical. Bad things happened because people were not informed properly. Even the media should not create a buzz around something like this every day. Just cool off and see the people behind it.”