Premier League stars Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan could be in trouble with the German FA after being pictured with the president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his electoral campaign.
The Arsenal and Manchester City players are both of Turkish descent, and were joined by Everton‘s Cenk Tosun in greeting Erdogan in London.
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) 14 May 2018
The German FA believe the duo were ‘manipulated’ into taking photos with Erdogan, who doesn’t represent the country’s values.
DFB president Reinhard Grindel said: “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.
“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.”
Oliver Bierhoff, the national team’s coordinator, added: “I still have absolutely no doubts about Mesut [Ozil] and Ilkay’s [Gundogan] 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.”
Both are highly likely to still be a part of the World Cup squad, with Germany determined to retain their crown as world champions. They’ll need their strongest possible squad if they’re to beat the likes Brazil, Spain and France.