Özil's Resignation Exposes A Crisis Of Citizenship

The hypocrisy exposed by Mesut Özil's resignation.

“I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish.” Star footballer Mesut Özil, whose grandparents moved to Germany as gastarbeiter 50 years ago, offered this as explanation for posing in a photo with Turkish president Recep Erdoğan in May. The incident has exposed deep rifts in German society, culminating this week in Özil announcing his withdrawal from the national team. 

To many in Germany, Özil’s confession of dual loyalties will confirm their view that he has always lacked commitment to the national side. Before the recent World Cup, Lothar Matthäus, ex-captain of Germany, wrote “Özil does not feel comfortable in the Germany jersey . . . he is not free, almost as if he does not want to play at all. There is no heart, no joy, no passion.’’ A politician from the far-right AfD party was more specific, attributing Özil

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