'Better served cold': Qatari fans remind Germany of Özil in protest
The saying, "first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye," accurately reminds people of the irony of life, especially the unveiling of events when Qatari football fans retaliated at Germany’s World Cup protest on Sunday by holding pictures of former Germany player Mesut Özil while covering their mouths during the match against Spain.
It was only a matter of time before someone with a voice for unsung victims came to the fore, and in this instance, a group of fans held copies of a hand-drawn sketch of Özil, while others showed pictures of him in action for Germany.
The clearly coordinated display was apparently in response to German players’ gesture on Wednesday when they covered their mouths to protest against FIFA following the governing body’s clampdown on the "One Love” armband. That gesture was a response to FIFA’s effective nixing of seven European teams’ plans to wear armbands that were seen as a rebuke to host nation Qatar and its human rights record.
Qatari fans appeared Sunday to reference Germany’s own questionable treatment of Özil, the former player who quit the national team after becoming a target of racist abuse and a scapegoat for Germany’s early World Cup exit in 2018.
"I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Özil said at the time.
The abuse started before the 2018 World Cup when Özil and Germany teammate İlkay Gündoğan posed for photographs with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Gündoğan also has a Turkish family background. He was subsequently jeered by German supporters during a World Cup warmup game.
Grindel later said he should have given Özil more support.
After playing in Sunday’s game at Al Bayt Stadium, in which Germany and Spain drew 1-1, Gündoğan said he just wanted to focus on football from now on.
"Honestly, my point of view is: now the politics are finished,” Gündoğan said. "The country of Qatar is very proud to host the World Cup, also the first Muslim country, and I come from a Muslim family. So the Muslim community is proud. So I think now it’s just about football.”