A number of fans inside the Al Bayt Stadium were spotted holding up pictures of Mesut Ozil during Sunday's World Cup clash between Germany and Spain – and they did so while covering their mouths.
Last week, every Germany player who started in their Group E game against Japan decided to protest against FIFA's ban of the OneLove armband by covering their mouths as they lined up for a team photo.
Germany, England, the Netherlands and other European nations had planned to wear the armband to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, but they backed down following the threat of sporting sanctions.
The German FA will take FIFA to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the ban.
On Sunday evening, fans inside the Al Bayt Stadium held up photos of Mesut Ozil while covering their mouths in response to Germany's gesture before their first game.
Those fans aimed to highlight what they perceived as double standards from the protest by highlighting Ozil's comments on his treatment.
Four years ago, Ozil decided to retire from international football.
The former Real Madrid and Arsenal player blamed unfair discrimination over his meeting with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for the decision.
A picture of Ozil and Erdogan, whose policies throughout his political career have been highly controversial, sparked nationwide controversy.
In a lenthy statement on his Twitter account, Ozil confirmed he would not play for the German national team again because of the "racism and disrespect" he feels he had suffered.
The midfielder wrote: “For me, having a picture with President Erdoğan wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country.
“My job is a football player and not a politician, and our meeting was not an endorsement of any policies. The treatment I have received from the DFB and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt.
"I feel unwanted and think what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.”
Ozil, who made 92 appearances for Germany during a nine-year period, criticised former DFB president Reinhard Grindel in the post.
"People with racially discriminative backgrounds should not be allowed to work in the largest football federation in the world that has players from dual‑heritage families," he wrote.
“Attitudes like theirs simply do not reflect the players they supposedly represent. In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win but I am an immigrant when we lose.”
He added: "It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect.
"I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement, but now I don’t. I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.”
On Wednesday afternoon, moments after Germany decided to cover their mouths in protest of the armband ban, the German national team commented on the gesture.
A post on Twitter read: "It wasn’t about making a political statement – human rights are non-negotiable. That should be taken for granted, but it still isn’t the case. That’s why this message is so important to us.
"Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.
"We wanted to use our captain’s armband to take a stand for values that we hold in the Germany national team: diversity and mutual respect. Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard."
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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