Mesut Ozil has been the subject of a lot of criticism this summer, some because of his play, and Germany’s crashing out of the World Cup, but also because he and fellow teammate Illkay Gundogan took a photo before the tournament with Turkish president Recip Erdogan. Both Ozil and Gundogan are of Turkish descent. The pair received a lot of criticism from both fans and German team officials, though neither were dropped from the team as some suggested. Ozil has been relatively quiet about the picture until now, and on Sunday he put out a lengthy statement, decrying his treatment by fans and German officials, especially the President of the German Federation, Reinhard Grindel. Ozil expressed that he believed people used the photograph they took with Erdogan as an excuse to project their previously disguised anti-Turkish beliefs, and that the picture was not a political statement, but a respect for the office of the presidency for Turkey. Ozil said that he was retiring from International football, and that he was no longer able to put on the Germany shirt because of the racism and disrespect that he has felt because of this. There’s a lot going on here. On the one hand, Erdogan is infamous for his autocratic policies, and is seen to have stoked tensions between Germany and Turkey. It’s understandable why people would be upset with two of Germany’s players taking a photo with someone like Erdogan. On the other hand, knowing the world the way we do, it’s entirely plausible to see things having played out the way that Ozil describes them. It’s unfortunate that a player feels like he can no longer represent his country because of feeling disrespected and discriminated against. Hopefully down the road there is an opportunity for reconciliation with Ozil and the German fans and officials.
Though the World Cup just ended, preseason is starting up again, and two European giants, Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool, squared off in a match on Sunday in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dortmund won the game 3-1. Liverpool took the lead with a headed goal by Virgil Van Dijk in the first half. But Christian Pulisic took over in the second, drawing and converting a penalty to level the match, scoring the gamewinning goal soon after, and then having an assist on the 3rd Dortmund goal, much to the delight of the American crowd. This will be a big year for Pulisic. He has a new coach, he should be well rested after not being at the World Cup, and he is looking to improve on his production after scoring just four goals for Dortmund last season. Here’s hoping this year is a real breakout year for Pulisic on the European stage.
Of all the teams that recently got a new stadium in MLS, D.C. United might have been the ones that needed it the most. Because of their lease and expenses at RFK, D.C. was handicapped in terms of how much money they could invest in the team, and the on the field product suffered as a result. As one of the original MLS teams, it’s been a long, hard road for D.C. to get a stadium of their own. The debut at Audi Field was in many ways a dream come true, a great goal by Yamil Asad to open the scoring, Wayne Rooney’s debut, and a D.C. United win. Still, the night was not without its problems. Some, like problems with mobile tickets being scanned, and pieces of the stadium falling and injuring people, are hopefully short term issues. Others, like the dispute between the team and supporters groups the Barra Brava and the District Ultras, are much more long standing problems. Kim McCauley of SB nation looks at the state of D.C. United, and how things are not as rosy as they may seem from the outside.
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