Authorities in the ancestral Turkish town of football star Mesut Özil have erected a new street sign showing him posing with President Tayyip Erdogan .
This was after the player quit the German team , saying he faced “ racism and disrespect ” for his Turkish roots .
The picture of a smiling Özil and Erdogan side by side , holding up the team shirt of his English club Arsenal, set off a row in Germany when the photo was snapped in May .
Erdogan , who was campaigning for re -election when the photo was taken , has drawn criticism in Germany for a crackdown following a coup attempt in 2016 .
He has since responded in kind .
Mustafa Semerci, the mayor of the Black Sea town of Devrek — the original home of Özil ’ s family — has however explained why he changed the sign .
“ This was after we watched with sadness what was done to Ozil , ’’ the Turkish news agency DHA quoted Semerci as saying .
The 29 -year – old Özil , who was a key member of Germany ’ s World Cup-winning team in 2014 , was also photographed with Erdogan along with Ilkay Gundogan , a teammate also of Turkish descent .
Özil ’ s announcement that he would no longer play for Germany came amid a political debate about an influx of 1 . 6 million migrants in the past four years .
This has fuelled a far – right resurgence and weakened support for traditional parties .
( Reuters / NAN )
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