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Toni Kroos rejects Mesut Ozil's racism claims, calls retirement reasons 'nonsense'

Jurgen Klopp tells ESPN FC's Mark Ogden that although he respects Mesut Ozil's decision not to play for Germany, neither side appears entirely in the right.
Raf Honigstein says Lothar Matthaus and Uli Hoeness missed the point with their comments on Mesut Ozil's decision to quit the German national team.

Toni Kroos criticised former Germany teammate Mesut Ozil for the way he announced his international retirement, saying Ozil's reasons were "nonsense."

Ozil, 29, announced his international retirement last month after Germany went out at the group stage of the World Cup, saying he had faced racism and disrespect from the German football federation (DFB) and, in particular, president Reinhard Grindel because of his Turkish roots.

"Basically, Mesut is a deserved international and as a player, he deserved a better departure," Kroos told Bild. "But the way he resigned was not in order."

Ozil was an important player when Germany won the World Cup in 2014 and has been voted by fans as the team's player of the year five times since 2011.

But the midfielder faced a barrage of criticism for having his photograph taken with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May and for his performances at the World Cup.

In resigning last month, Ozil also accused the DFB of failing to back him amid the controversy over the photo.

Fans jeered Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan, a teammate also of Turkish descent who was photographed with Erdogan at the same ceremony, during World Cup warmup games in May.

"The parts in his statement that are rightly addressed are unfortunately overshadowed by the significantly higher amount of nonsense," Kroos said. "I think he knows very well that racism within the national team and the DFB does not exist."

Germany failed to reach the knockout rounds at the World Cup and made their earliest exit from the tournament in 80 years, with Ozil one of the scapegoats for their unsuccessful title defence.

"In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose," Ozil wrote.

Germany's Toni Kroos during the World Cup game against South Korea.
Toni Kroos does not believe former Germany teammate Mesut Ozil's racism claims.

Captain Manuel Neuer said earlier this month that the situation has been "very exhausting," and, like, Kroos, Thomas Muller disputed the idea that the Germany national team was divided by racism.

Grindel released a lengthy statement in late July acknowledging the association had made mistakes in its handling of Ozil's situation but also denied it was motivated by racism.

Kroos, who has won the last three Champions League titles with Real Madrid, said he had no plans to follow Ozil into international retirement.

"I will continue towards Euro 2020 and have set myself the goal of being far more successful there than in the recent past," Kroos said.

"I had a good talk with [coach] Joachim Low. We will find solutions together so that I can get a break here and there. For me, that's the only way, and I am thankful for Jogi's understanding."

Low welcomed his player's decision, saying Kroos, with his experience, will be central in his planning for Euro 2020.

"I had several good, long talks with Toni and am delighted that he has decided to continue playing for the national team and go towards Euro 2020 together with us," Low said. "With his experience, class and personality he is, of course, a key player who has an important role in our plans both on and off the pitch."

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