The father of German football player Mesut Ozil urged his son on Sunday to quit the country’s national squad after he was “made the scapegoat” for their shock first-round defeat at the World Cup in Russia.
The statement from Ozil’s father came after Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff said they should have considered heading to the World Cup without the third-generation Turkish-German midfielder.
“Until now we never had to force national team players to do something but always tried to convince them of something,” Bierhoff said in an interview with Die Welt newspaper on Friday.
“We did not succeed in that with Mesut and so maybe we should have considered to be without him (at the World Cup) on a sporting level.”
Bierhoff’s statements angered Ozil’s father who said: “This statement is insolent. In my opinion, it is aimed at saving one’s own skin”.
Ozil, a key member of the 2014 World Cup-winning side, and team mate Ilkay Gundogan, both of Turkish descent, had to deal with a barrage of criticism at home after they were pictured with Erdogan in London in May and the affair overshadowed their tournament preparation.
The still-reigning world champions went out in the group stage in Russia after a string of lackluster performances for their earliest tournament exit in 80 years.
(With inputs from Reuters)