Did Germany Get Its (Soccer) Balls Back?

The German soccer player of Turkish descent, Mezut Özil, has taken a play right out of the palestinian playbook. After a dismal team performance at the World Cup in Russia, Özil has announced his resignation, crying “racism.”

An easy play on the conscience of Germans, who hate to be called “racist.” But like palestinians, who’ll commit acts of terror and then play poor victim when Israel retaliates, the millionaire Özil is playing poor victim after he screwed up on and off the court.

What happened? In May, Özil and another player of Turkish descent, İlkay Gündoğan, happily met with Turkish dictator and Israel-hater Erdogan, on the cusp of Turkish elections, posing with him and giving him a jersey that said “To my president.” Fans, and even the largely left-wing media, criticized his choice. Morale for the team was down. Many fans could not get fully behind a team whose players showed loyalty for another country – a dictatorship no less.

As I wrote in my blog in the Jewish Journal, national sports teams in the World Cup are like platoons in a pacifist form or modern warfare. To ensure solidarity and team spirit, they must all know they have each others’ back, in pursuit of pride for their country.

In a three-part ranting on Twitter in English (which  makes you question to whom exactly he is loyal), Özil defended his photo-op and overly friendly meeting with the dictator, ignoring Erdogan’s antisemitic statements, imprisonment of journalists, and slew of other human rights violations. Apparently, every non-Turkish national is a racist. Erdogan has called Israel “racist” for its passage of its Nation State Law.

The only downside to this incident is that Özil wasn’t fired at the outbreak of Erdogate, with the German team crying “foul” for Özil’s own support of Turkish racism. Had Germany fired him from the outset, it would have really reclaimed its (soccer) balls.


Orit Arfa

Orit Arfa is a is a journalist and author based in Berlin. Visit her website: www.oritarfa.net.

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