Midfielders Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan have been criticised by the German Football Association (DFB) for a photograph they took with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the weekend.
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.
The meeting took place in London on Sunday night but the DFB have claimed that the pair of German internationals, both of whom are of Turkish origin, were “exploited for his election campaign,” after Erdogan announced snap elections last month.
“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.
Cumhurbaşkanımız Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, çeşitli temaslarda bulunmak üzere gittiği İngiltere’nin başkenti Londra’da Premier Lig’de oynayan Türk futbolcu Cenk Tosun, Türk asıllı futbolcu Mesut Özil ve Türk asıllı futbolcu İlkay Gündoğan’ı kabul etti. pic.twitter.com/X3ZY8wwCsa
— AK Parti (@Akparti) May 14, 2018
“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.”
Both players will be spoken to ahead of Germany’s World Cup preparations.
DFB team coordinator Oliver 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.”