The president of the German Football Association (DFB), Reinhard Grindel, and general manager Oliver Bierhoff have been urged to quit by the chairman of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims over comments about Mesut Ozil.
The attacking midfielder was criticised in his homeland alongside Ilkay Gundogan after the pair appeared in a photo alongside Turkey president Recep Erdogan.
The image was a big talking point ahead of their World Cup campaign, as ex-Germany star Stefan Effenberg said the duo should have been banished from the team, while Bierhoff said the incident could have cost them a place for the tournament in Russia.
Ozil was the subject of further criticism for his performances in a disastrous tournament for Joachim Low’s team as they crashed out at the group stage, and Bierhoff went on to admit that Germany would have been justified in leaving him out for the trip to Russia, while last week Grindel urged him to explain the reason behind his meeting with the Turkish leader.
The issues have raised concerns that Ozil could quit Die Mannschaft, with even his father suggesting it, but Central Council of Muslims chairman Aiman Mazyek believes the DFB figures should be the ones to go.
“Putting the boot in is punished with a red card in sports,” Mazyek told ESPN.
“Bierhoff and Grindel must step down if they have not learned anything else in their long career than: ‘You lose as Ozil’ instead of ‘You lose as a team’.”
And Mazyek believes the intensity surrounding the debate about Muslims in Germany is the reason the two have survived so far.
“If this did not have a strong bias right now, both officials – Grindel and Bierhoff – would have long been gone following their underwhelming statements.”
Mazyek is not the first to come out in support of Ozil after the World Cup failure. Teammate Jerome Boateng says the criticism was unfair.
“Everyone has picked out Mesut Ozil, but that’s not possible, Mesut is a human,” the 29-year-old said.
“He’s an artist on the ball, not a fighter in the defence like me, so maybe he comes across badly. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to win or he does it on purpose.
“It was a difficult situation for him at the end.”