Mesut Ozil: Why racism will persist

Mesut Ozil
Mesut Ozil

What Mesut Ozil highlighted in his ‘resignation’ letter from Germany’s national football team is not peculiar.

“I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” said Ozil, in a very verbose statement on Sunday.

Similar sentiments were echoed when Romelu Lukaku granted an interview to the Players Tribune. He said: “When things were going well, I was reading newspapers articles and they were calling me Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian striker.”

“When things weren’t going well, they were calling me Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian striker of Congolese descent.”

The thread is familiar and runs thickly throughout sports, especially football, because there is a lot of money concentrated in the game. When France won the 2018 World Cup, South African comic, Trevor Noah ‘jokingly’ said, “Yes. Yes. Africa won the World Cup! Africa won the World Cup!”

“I get it. I get it. They have to say it’s the French team, but look at those guys – you don’t get that tan by hanging out in the South of France.”

That was supposed to be a joke but the French ambassador to the USA, Gérard Araud got hot under the collar and replied – “I heard your words about ‘an African victory’, nothing could be less true,” Araud stated.

He went on to state that all but two of the 23-man squad were born outside France but that all the players were educated in France and learned to play the game in France. The question is then whether human beings can claim two origins. Ozil is German, with deep Turkish roots; Lukaku is Belgian, but his parents emigrated from Congo…can we refer to them as German-Turk and Belgian-Congolese? Apparently, Araud believes not!

“Unlike in the United States of America, France does not refer to its citizens based on the race, religion, or origin. To us there is no hyphenated identity, roots are an individual reality. By calling them an African team you are denying their Frenchness,” he said.

Though Russia hosted a truly excellent World Cup, the undertones of racism that was feared could ruin the tournament still exists despite the whitewash. Just on Friday, July 20, a Russian third division team, FC Torpedo Moscow cancelled a black players’ contract – Erving Botaka-Yoboma, citing a lack of funds even though their racist fans had been in an uproar concerning the signing and had engaged in racist abuse online.

Whilst human beings are not supposed to live in cocoons and there is not just one breed of human beings all over the world, the colour separation – between black and white [what that really means I don’t know]; the religious separation – between Muslims and Christians, will continue to divide as long as people hold on to the narrow view that they are better than the other person.

Khaled A Beydoun, writing in the Guardian of London said, “This was the French team: predominantly black, overwhelmingly African and unapologetically Muslim. And simultaneously, still French.

“Seconds before the World Cup was over, and France prepared to celebrate before billions, Beydoun tweeted:

Dear France,

Congratulations on winning the #WorldCup.

80% of your team is African, cut out the racism and xenophobia.

50% of your team are Muslims, cut out the Islamophobia.

Africans and Muslims delivered you a second World Cup, now deliver them justice.”

Countries and Immigrants

The reality of the situation is that countries will claim immigrants as long as they are subservient and serve the local cause but where they do otherwise, they will be referred to as addendums of their genuine places of origin.

Though the world has become deeply integrated over time due to the ease of travel, with the same speed has arisen people who want to ‘make their countries great again’ by practicing exclusion.

Acclaimed statesman, the late Nelson Mandela said, “Racism is a blight on the human conscience,” in an address to the UK’s Joint Houses of Parliament on July 11, 1996.

“The idea that any people can be inferior to another, to the point where those who consider themselves superior define and treat the rest as sub-human, denies the humanity even of those who elevate themselves to the status of gods.”

But narcissists will believe what they believe even though hidden under the bravado cloak is a festering inferiority complex. No one will argue that Ozil was one of the chief architects for Germany when they won the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and how Zinedine Zidane [of Algerian roots] powered France to the 1998 World Cup but these accomplishments are soon forgotten when things go awry – which will always happen because we are human.

But European countries especially must learn that if they claim the good, they must also claim the bad – as long as it is from the same source.

Ozil was good in 2014 – he was a very good German. So now that he played a bad tournament, does it make him less German? What this translates to is – Germans can never be bad! — That is a lie!!!

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