The German FA (DFB) has admitted it “made mistakes” with its handling of Mesut Ozil in the build-up to the Arsenal star’s acrimonious international retirement in 2018.

On the eve of the World Cup, Ozil was pictured alongside teammate Ilkay Gundogan with controversial Turkish president Recep Erdogan.

The picture caused outrage in Germany and ill-feeling towards Ozil escalated as the defending champions failed to make it out of the World Cup group stages.

After the tournament, the player posted a number of letters on social media detailing the “racism and disrespect” he had suffered, culminating in him announcing his retirement from the national team.

Mesut Ozil, Recep Tayyip Erdogan are posing for a picture: The picture of Ozil and Erdogan sparked outrage in Germany© Getty The picture of Ozil and Erdogan sparked outrage in Germany
Two years after the incident, the DFB has said it could have handled the situation better and admitted it did not even meet with Ozil for talks.

“The DFB made mistakes in dealing with the events surrounding the Ozil case,” general secretary Friedrich Curtis told the German Foundation on Integration.

“A photo became a burning glass for many topics. The moment there were racist allegations, we missed the time to meet with the player.”

How much have Germany missed Ozil since his international retirement in 2018? Have your say here.

Mesut Ozil in a green shirt: Ozil was pivotal to Germany’s 2014 World Cup success – but was scapegoated for their failures four years later© AFP Ozil was pivotal to Germany’s 2014 World Cup success – but was scapegoated for their failures four years later
Last year, Ozil defended his picture with close friend Erdogan, whose state visit to London was met with protests from human rights groups.

“[Erdogan] is the current president of Turkey and I would show respect to that person, whoever it was,” Ozil told The Athletic . “Although I was born and raised in Germany, Turkey is part of my heritage.

“If the German president or [Chancellor] Angela Merkel are in London and ask to see me, to speak to me, of course I would do that as well.

“It’s just about showing respect to the highest position of a country.

“After the photo, I felt disrespected and unprotected. I was receiving racist abuse – even from politicians and public figures – yet nobody from the national team came out at that time and said: ‘Hey, stop. This is our player, you can’t insult him like that.’ Everyone just kept quiet and let it happen.”