WC 2018: Germany coach defends Ozil,Gundogan
Manager Joachim Low wants Germany to move on from the controversy of Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan meeting with Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ozil and Gundogan, who are both of Turkish descent, were selected by Low in his provisional World Cup squad after being pictured at Turkey's London embassy alongside Erdogan ahead of the politician's meeting with UK prime minister Theresa May earlier this month. Erdogan is seeking re-election in his homeland against a backdrop of pressure from human rights groups and exiled Turkish citizens, who have denounced the government's alleged systematic arrest of journalists, civil rights activists and political opponents.
The German Football Federation (DFB) criticised Ozil and Gundogan, who appeared alongside Everton and Turkey striker Cenk Tosun, for taking part in an "election campaign stunt" – an observation that was branded "unacceptable" by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF).
Speaking at a news conference on Thursday after Germany convened at their Eppan training camp, Low confirmed he had discussed the matter with his players and felt it was time to draw a line under the episode.
"We've had a private discussion and both players have assured us that no political message was intended," he said.For me, it's no longer an issue within the team and the sporting aspects will now take over."
The other source of pre-tournament controversy around the Germany squad has been Bayern Munich striker Sandro Wagner reacting in outspoken fashion to his omission.