Premier League stars criticised for helping Erdogan's 'propaganda'

Premier League stars criticised for helping Erdogan's 'propaganda'
By Chris Pilcher
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There have been calls for Arsenal's Mesut Ozil and Manchester City's İlkay Gündoğan to be excluded from Germany's World Cup squad after posing for photos with Turkey's controversial President.


Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is accused of exploiting some of the Premier League's biggest stars, while on his three day visit to the UK.

Erdoğan, who's in the middle of a re-election campaign in Turkey, posed for photos with Arsenal's Mesut Ozil and Manchester City's İlkay Gündoğan in London on Sunday.

Both players represent Germany's national side but have Turkish heritage.

Erdoğan's Presidential campaign has been controversial, condemned by human rights campaigners and accused of imprisoning journalists and opposition leaders.

The timing is unfortunate for Germany's national team, who announce their squad for the upcoming World Cup on Tuesday.

Some German fans have called for Ozil and Gündoğan to be left out for taking part in Erdogan's alleged 'propaganda stunt'.

On Twitter, the German Football Association's President Reinhard Grindel said:

"The DFB naturally respects the special situation of our players with a migration background. But football and the DFB stand for values that are not sufficiently respected by Mr Erdoğan. It is therefore not a good thing that our national players are being abused for his campaign manoeuvres. Our two players certainly did not help the integration work of the DFB with this action."

Former player and Germany's current team manager, Oliver Bierhoff, said:

"I still have no doubts whatsoever about Mesut and Ilkay's clear commitment to playing for the German national team and to identifying with our values. They weren't aware of the symbolism and meaning of this photo, but of course we don't approve of the action and discuss it with the players".

Germany's politicians came down even more heavily on the players. Cem Ozdemir of the Greens ("Die Grünen") said:

"What the two of them have presented mocks any description, it is not possible. I expect the two of them to now make themselves clear, to distance themselves." They would have "given themselves up for a cheap propaganda show for a despot, for an authoritarian ruler".

Sevim Dagdelen of the Left Party ("Die Linke") said:

**"Posing in London's luxury hotel with Despot Erdogan and courting him as "my president" while in Turkey democrats are being persecuted and critical journalists are being imprisoned is a gross foul," she told the German Press Agency",

Germany's Head Coach Joachim Low must decide whether to still take the players to Russia, where they will defend their World Cup trophy.

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