DFB chief slams Ozil, Gundogan photos with Turkish president

May 14, 2018

In this photo taken on Sunday, May 13, 2018, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, poses for a photo with Turkish Premier League soccer players Ilkay Gundogan, left, Mesut Ozil, second left, and Cenk Tosun in London. Erdogan started a three-day visit to Britain on Sunday by praising the country as "an ally and a strategic partner, but also a real friend." (Presidential Press Service/Pool via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — The head of Germany’s soccer federation has criticized national team players Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan for having their picture taken with Turkey’s president.

The Arsenal and Manchester City players posed for photos on Sunday in London with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has taken an increasingly authoritarian stance in recent years.

Reinhard Grindel said on Monday on Twitter that “football and the DFB stand for values that Mr. Erdogan doesn’t sufficiently observe. That’s why it’s not good our national team players allowed themselves to be misused for his election campaign maneuvers.”

Grindel said he respected “the special situation of players with a background of migration.” Ozil and Gundogan were born in Germany but have family roots in Turkey.

But he added the players “didn’t help the DFB’s integration work.”

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