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Mesut Ozil Retires From International Football- Arsenal Star Press Release Airs Football’s Dirty Secrets

Sport, football in particular, remains defeated in its quest at sanitizing its image as a potent, albeit reluctant, political tool. It is a fight that those high up in football feel that football needs to win. But as the as players, rather than clubs, accrue gravitas as the beautiful game’s pull factor, this battle is increasingly becoming yesterday’s fight. Mesut Ozil terse statement released Sunday night not only exposed the rot in the beautiful game, but affirms our worst fears.

Poster of Mesut Ozil playing for Germany with a quote of the German star on racisim from his press release when retiring from the German National Team

FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, will be remembered for the excitement it delivered on the pitch. For VAR ‘s role when football moved into the 21st century, embracing technology, as humanity’s favorite sport sought to entertain. Russia 2018 will also be remembered for the politics. The Mesut Ozil monster of a press release rubber stamped this bit of uncomfortable history about Russia’s moment.

Moreover, coming from a star of the game, and in light of the schism expected of the issues raised, this one will leave big casualties. The coming together of stardom and wholesome, unfettered expression of angst creates the perfect shit storm.

We Africans say that when a big tree falls, the goat eats its leaves. Mesut Ozil retiring from the German national team in this manner reminds me of the infamous coming together of Zinedine Zidane and Marco Matterazzi, midway though the second half of extra time at the 2006 World Cup Final in Berlin.

Power of the Artist

Admittedly, the Mesut Ozil –  German FA moment of madness has been more drawn out. But it is no less devoid of surprise. Just like Ozil today, Zinedine Zidane was his country’s most technically gifted player of a golden generation. Just as the unexpectedness of Zidane’s headbutt, the press release by Mesut Ozil is a career ending tackle from the unlikeliest sources.

Artful players like Zidane and Ozil aren’t meant to hit like that. Especially not in football where the modern game is crafted to protect them for their value to the enterprise. Yet, this artistry is precisely why when they hit, they hit as hard like that. Lady Gaga once explained the power of the artist’s punch

in art, as in music, there’s a lot of truth—and then there’s a lie. The artist is essentially creating his work to make this lie a truth, but he slides it in amongst all the others. The tiny little lie is the moment I live for, my moment. It’s the moment that the audience falls in love.

Zidane’s volley against Bayer Leverkusen that won Real Madrid the UEFA Champions League in 2002; the headbutt; that Ozil amazing solo run goal against Ludogorets; now this clang of a press release, all these moments are what the artiste lives for. Their moment. The moment that the audience falls in love.

The Mesut Ozil Decision, Headlines & Whispers

Espnfc.com carried a headline that intimated that Arsenal’s star, Mesut Ozil, fallout with the German FA that ended up in the 2014 World Cup winner, five time German Footballer of the year and poster child of integration in football quitting playing for his adopted nation, as more tragic than Germany’s failure at Russia 2018.

Weeks earlier, even more text had been laid down explaining Ronaldo’s move from Real Madrid to Juventus as a win for the Turin club, Real Madrid and Ronaldo thanks largely to the Portugese Captain’s larger than life status.

Separately, these two happenings could be mistaken for mere happenstance. Wrongly taken as stuff that’s routine in the football cycle – players do eventually leave for one reason on the other. However, digging deeper, the statement by Mesut Ozil echoes the whispers of the drawn out Cristiano Ronaldo – Madrid saga.

A transfer whose astronomical value (350 million for a 33 – going on – 34-year-old athlete ) clouded the real story. A twisted story of human worth and respect, xenophobia and racism. And how football’s convoluted money labyrinth distorts all that. Of how one of humanity’s favorite pastimes appropriates the star footballer’s image rights. How a sport abandons them after feeding on their bodies and youth.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are five of football’s dirtiest secrets. And they are important today because Mesut Ozil reminds us that football is life.

Football’s More Important Than Life and Death, It’s Power, Identity, Money and Giving

Liverpool legend Bill Shankly said “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I’m very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” The contents of this press release by Mesut Ozil couldn’t offer more proof of Shankly’s sentiments. Read on:

The Aftermath

Does this spell the end of Mesut Ozil in international football? Under the current German FA regime, this is not a remote possibility.

What happens to German – Turkish relations moving forward? Who knows?

This could be the seminal moment when things take a turn for the better. It has happened before with Didier Drogba and company in the Ivory Coast. Also in apartheid South Africa and all those unsung moments when sportsmen overcame politics of their countries, serving as role models for their politicians. Moments when sport helped solve political problems.

For the moment though, Mesut Ozil for sure spoke for Romeleu Lukaku and  others who have had their ancestry used against them, by sections of people who they’ve represented in the wars of soft power play that global sporting events are.

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