German Football Association general manager Oliver Bierhoff has admitted it could have been a mistake to take Mesut Ozil to the World Cup amid the controversy involving Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The day before the announcement of Germany’s preliminary squad, Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan had their picture taken with Erdogan during the president’s visit to London, sparking a barrage of criticism.
But while Gundogan published a statement on social media committing himself to “German values,” Ozil remained quiet throughout and became a topic of debate, and Bierhoff told Die Welt that as a result the federation should have handled the situation differently.
“I believe that the team wasn’t so bothered about the fact that Mesut and Ilkay were in the photos,” Bierhoff told the newspaper. “But the [media] debate just wouldn’t stop. In hindsight, I would have tried to deal with this issue in a more decisive manner.”
And Bierhoff said the controversy reached a point where the federation should have considered leaving Ozil out of the squad when the player declined to address the matter.
“We should have considered passing on him,” Bierhoff said. “We have never forced national team players to do something, but rather always tried to convince them.
“We failed to do that with Mesut. And thus, we should have considered to pass on him for sporting purposes.