Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed double standards in the Mesut Ozil controversy, and said that both him and Ilkay Gundogan have nothing to regret about meeting him before the world cup.
Arsenal's Ozil and Manchester City's Gundogan were photographed with the Turkish president as part of a charity event before the World Cup tournament in Russia. Erdogan said that there was nothing to regret about the meeting and that the whole controversy was incomprehensible considering Lothar Matthaus met Vladimir Putin too.
"There is nothing to regret," Erdogan told Funke Mediengruppe, according to Goal.
"As you know, Lothar Matthaus met with Vladimir Putin. Our players should also be able to act with a clear conscience. I regret the people who criticise that.
"We have met many times on different occasions. We also meet Turkish citizens in different countries. Mesut is someone who lives in London. Why should not I meet him while I'm here?
"Should we, if a German football player who plays in our country take a picture with Mrs Merkel, then lynch him? This logic is incomprehensible.
"Ozil and Gundogan can feel that they belong to both countries; the country where they were born and the country where their parents come from."
"We are proud of our fellow citizens living in Germany, in fact Mesut Ozil said: 'I play for Germany, but carry Turkey in my heart.'
"He did not leave the German national team for no reason, and anyone else who struggles with these racist attacks and insults would show the same reaction."