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Former football star Mesut Özil.

Mesut Özil again embroiled in extremist scandal

Some call it unfortunate timing, others deliberate provocation: After Merih Demiral showed the so-called "wolf salute" in the European Championship round of 16 match against Austria, a right-wing extremist group in Turkey, Mesut Özil also caused a similar scandal.

The former German international proudly posted a photo of his steely torso on Instagram. The tattooed symbol of the Grey Wolves is clearly visible on his chest.

The right-wing extremist and ultra-nationalist group is known for its radical views and hatred of Kurds, Jews and homosexuals. The group is already banned in France. Özil's post came on the same day that Turkish national player Merih Demiral showed the so-called "wolf salute" in the European Championship round of 16 match against Austria.

Incident at the European Championships

Demiral, who scored a decisive goal in Turkey's 2-1 victory over Austria, defended his gesture as an expression of national pride: "The way I celebrated has something to do with my Turkish identity," Demiral explained after the game. UEFA then launched an investigation into the "allegedly inappropriate behavior of the player." In Germany, the host country of the European Championship, critical voices called for consistent action to be taken in the incident.

Merih Demiral caused a wave of outrage with this symbol. © APA/afp / RONNY HARTMANN

Özil, on the other hand, did not comment further on his photo, which, however, reignited the discussion about his alleged connections to the "Grey Wolves". In July 2023, a similar photo with Turkish fitness coach Alper Aksac had already caused outrage, in which Özil showed off his tattoo for the first time. Then, as now, the accusation is that Özil supports the extremist views of the group.

Özil's scandalous exit as a national player

The incident is reminiscent of the 2018 controversy when Özil posed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and received harsh criticism. This eventually led to his resignation from the German national team, accusing the DFB of racism. Since then, the former world champion has increasingly become involved in political and controversial issues.

The incident once again highlights the problematic connections between prominent athletes and extremist groups.

Schlagwörter: Soccer Mesut Ozil

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