Category : Sports

BERLIN (AP) — Mesut Ozil is quitting Germany’s national team following criticism over his decision to pose for a picture with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In a series of statements posted Sunday on Twitter, the Arsenal star announced his retirement from international football. He attacked the German football federation (DFB), its president, fans and the media, criticizing what he saw as racism and double standards in the treatment of people with Turkish roots.

Citing anti-Turkish comments from far-right politicians and fans, Ozil said he would “no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect.”

He added: “Racism should never, ever be accepted.”

The photo of Erdogan, Ozil and Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan meeting in London caused an uproar in Germany two months ago.

At the time, the head of Germany’s soccer federation, Reinhard Grindel, publicly accused the players — whose families came to Germany from Turkey — of allowing themselves to be “exploited” by Erdogan for political purposes. Some German politicians questioned Ozil and Gundogan’s loyalty to Germany and suggested they should be removed from the national squad ahead of the World Cup.

Gundogan distanced himself from the photo, but Ozil refused to comment publicly until Sunday when he published a three-part statement in English which defended his actions and attacked those who have criticized him

“The picture we took had no political intentions,” said Ozil, adding that it “was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country.”

He also took a swipe at German media who suggested that the 29-year-old midfielder was partly to blame for Germany’s shock group-stage exit from the World Cup.

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“This crosses a personal line that should never be crossed, as newspapers try to turn the nation of Germany against me,” Ozil said, noting that there had been little criticism of former Germany captain Lothar Matthaeus over a recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ozil reserved his sharpest words for Grindel, however, alleging that the federation president had been “patronizing” toward the player, who was a key part of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning team.

“I will no longer stand for being a scapegoat for his incompetence and inability to do his job properly,” Ozil said, claiming that Grindel had made “unforgivable and unforgettable” comments about immigrants and Muslims in the past.

On Twitter, Ozil said: “The treatment I have received from the DFB and many others makes me no longer want to wear the German national team shirt.

“I feel unwanted and think that what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.”

While Ozil said he had received support from German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and national team coach Joachim Low, he claimed “in the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.”

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Even as Brazil comfortably completed the first part of its summer to-do list, easing effortlessly in the round of 16, its biggest star continued to be a lightning rod for attention and criticism. Neymar is one of soccer’s handful of true global icons, a colorful, creative and mostly-charming forward with boundless ability and enthusiasm for life.

Yet his personality is such that is occasionally has the ability to overshadow both his teammates and the goal of bringing Brazil its sixth World Cup title. With the second round approaching, he has a target on his back. “They still have their little problem child Neymar,” former Manchester United and Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, now an analyst for Russian television channel RT, said. “He’s still trying to impress everybody with his skills, and still nothing is really happening.

“His current standard and his current level – it might not be a bad idea to give him a bit of a break.”Dropping Neymar for Brazil’s impending clash with Mexico would be about the most drastic and dramatic move that head coach Tite could make, and there is little chance of him doing so. Neymar has the kind of near-mythical status that the soccer-mad nation of Brazil reserves for its most treasured stars, a cultural phenomenon as much as a soccer one.

But the truth is that his most meaningful contributions in the tournament so far have been to provide a series of absurd, meme-worthy moments by dramatically feigning foul of injury.After being tackled on the sideline against Serbia on Wednesday night, the 26-year-old managed to theatrically roll on the turf, completing four-and-a-half rotations, perhaps a new world record.In Brazil’s second game against Costa Rica, a penalty appeal was overturned when video replay showed that Neymar had leaped backwards to the ground after the kind of touch from an opponent that would tickle rather than cause discomfort.

Furthermore, Brazil fans are swiftly coming to the opinion that instead of Neymar, it is midfielder Philippe Coutinho who is truly making the team tick, a theory backed up by Coutinho’s magnificent pass to set up the opening goal against Serbia.

Neymar was defended by Tite, the coach perhaps hoping that easing the mental burden on his most famous player will reinvigorate him and spawn the kind of levels he showed in the 2014 World Cup, before succumbing to a back injury in the quarterfinal.“There is an excessive responsibility on Neymar in terms of success and that is not the way to go,” Tite told reporters. “We should not place it all on his shoulders.”Yet that is the burden of notoriety and stardom, and it is Neymar’s to carry regardless. Whether he is truly the problem child or not, the eyes of Brazil, and of the World Cup, are upon him.

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To many in the world of women’s basketball, Anne Donovan was a giant. And not just because she stood 6-foot-8.She won a national championship at Old Dominion, two Olympic gold medals as a player and another as a coach in her storied career.The 56-year-old Hall of Famer died Wednesday of heart failure, her family said in a statement.”One of the greater basketball players in her time slot,” Las Vegas Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said. “She stood out for her height, but also her playing ability and continued that throughout her whole life, coaching, her ambassadorship. You name it, she did it.”Donovan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995, was part of the inaugural class of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 and was inducted in the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2015.”Anne was a giant in every sense of the word, and I know the women’s basketball community is saddened beyond words by this tragic news,” said Val Ackerman, who was the WNBA’s first president. “She was a pioneer and icon in the women’s game and made a profound and lasting impact at all levels as a player, coach, colleague and friend.”Donovan was just in Knoxville, Tennessee, last weekend at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame ceremonies where her high school coach Rose Marie Battaglia was inducted in the 2018 class.”People are going to remember her for what she did in basketball,” Seattle guard Sue Bird said. “But she also was just such a great person.”Donovan led the Storm to the WNBA championship in 2004, becoming the first female coach and the youngest person (42) to win a title in the league.

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The Yankees and Mets open a three-game Subway Series at Citi Field. Jacob deGrom has been stellar for the Mets, but New York hasn’t been so great in return. DeGrom has a 0.99 ERA over his past nine starts, and yet the Mets are 2-7 in those games. The Yankees, meanwhile, have won seven of eight and are a half-game back of Boston in the AL East with Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 4.79) set to start.

The Chicago Cubs are still seeking clarity on rules regarding catchers blocking home plate, even after a potentially prickly call went their way. Anthony Rizzo was credited with a sacrifice fly Thursday after a video review determined Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp had illegally blocked the plate with his left leg as Albert Almora Jr. tried to score from third. Almora beat Dylan Cozen’s strong throw from left field, but was unable to touch the plate with Knapp in the way. Almora initially was called out before the play was overruled.

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MANILA • Manny Pacquiao yesterday said that he “can’t wait” for another title shot when he takes on World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse.

“It’s on! Can’t wait to challenge Lucas Matthysse for another world title on July 15 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – July 14 US time #Pacmanisback,” tweeted the 39-year-old, who has won eight world titles in a record eight weight divisions.

According to ESPN, Pacquiao will take on Matthysse without his long-time trainer Freddie Roach in his corner.

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