Turkey's Erdogan decries 'racist attitude' against Ozil

FILE - In this file photo taken on Sunday, May 13, 2018, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, poses for a photo with Arsenal soccer player Mesut Ozil in London. Germany midfielder Ozil has announced his retirement from international soccer, alleging racial discrimination. (Presidential Press Service/Pool via AP, File)

ISTANBUL — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he spoke with Mesut Ozil after the midfielder's retirement from playing for Germany. He decried the "racist attitude" Ozil faces.

Ozil announced his international retirement on Sunday, weeks after Germany's first-round World Cup exit. He was criticized for posing for photos with Erdogan before the tournament and Turkish elections.

Ozil criticized the German football federation, its president, fans and media for what he regarded as racism in how people with Turkish roots were treated. He defended the Erdogan meeting.

Erdogan told Turkish journalists on Tuesday he spoke to Ozil on Monday. He said in Ankara it's "truly unacceptable that a young man who has given everything to the German national team and has contributed to its success is facing such a racist attitude because of his religion."

The Turkish Football Federation also issued a statement, saying it "offers its full support" to Ozil and his family. It also condemned "the treatment, threats and derogatory messages" against Ozil and asked the football community to stand united against "racism and intolerance."

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