Arsenal star Mesut Ozil and Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan have received a warning from the German FA (DFB) after being pictured alongside Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Photos of Ozil, Gundogan and Everton striker Cenk Tosun post alongside the president.
Ozil and Gundogan are both German internationals born in Gelsenkirchen to Turkish families.
All three players handed Erdogan signed shirts from their respective clubs and posed for photos with the 64-year-old.
Erdogan, in the UK as part of a state visit, is in the midst of a re-election campaign after he declared snap elections which will go ahead next month.
DFB president Reinhard Grindel claimed Ozil and Gundogan have been ‘exploited’ for political gain.
“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,” DFB president Reinhard Grindel said.
“Therefore, it is not a good thing that our internationals have let themselves be exploited for his election campaign stunt. It certainly hasn’t helped the DFB’s integration efforts.”
Bierhoff said: “I still have absolutely no doubts about Mesut and Ilkay’s commitment to playing for the Germany national team and how much they identify with our values.
“They were unaware of the symbolism of these pictures, but we cannot endorse it, and we will discuss the matter with the players.”
It is worth pointing out that Ozil and Gundogan are both eligible for citizenship in Turkey and have relatives in the country.
An invite from the head of state is prestigious regardless of country and does not necessarily equate to support of the president.
It is worth pointing out that Gundogan signed the shirt he gave to Recep Tayyip Erdogan as ‘my president’.
Gundogan and Ozil may well have sympathies for the Turkish president and it would be naive to claim they were ‘exploited’ as they regularly visit Turkey and have relatives in the country so would more than likely be aware of Erdogan.
The latest photos have been compared to Arda Turan famously posing with the president but unlike the Turkey international, Ozil and Gundogan have not made any political statements.