Germany supporters clashed in the stands after their disappointing Qatar World Cup group-stage exit as demonstrations in support of Mesut Ozil continued at the Al Bayt Stadium. A section of Qataris and other spectators were again in the stands for Germany’s 4-2 win against Costa Rica, protesting against the Muslim star’s treatment.
Ozil, who scored 23 goals in 92 caps for Germany, hasn’t represented his country since 2018. The national team dropped the 34-year-old midfielder as he became an outcast at Arsenal and hasn’t had a look-in since denouncing the persecution of Muslim Uighurs in China a year later.
That said, it must be stressed that his absence has no relation to his public criticism, and there has been a conflation of separate issues.
Germany’s players protested FIFA banning European nations, including England, from wearing ‘OneLove’ armbands in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community ruffled feathers in Qatar, where it is illegal to be in a homosexual relationship. And local spectators bit back by attending Sunday’s 1-1 draw between Germany and Spain with print-outs of Ozil.
The same photos and drawings returned to the German fan section for Thursday’s triumph over Costa Rica, which wasn’t enough to prevent back-to-back group-stage eliminations due to Japan beating Spain. And while tensions were high after the outcome, angry supporters clashed with the protestors, trying to grab the print-outs and confront those involved.
Before the aggro, hundreds of other Qataris mocked Germany’s protest against the ‘OneLove’ armband ban by covering their mouths while holding up the Ozil print-outs. And a Qatar TV channel revelled in the nation’s exit, with several hosts covering their mouths and waving Hansi Flick’s side goodbye.
Germany almost had as bad a campaign as Qatar, who made history this winter for all the wrong reasons. The hosts became the first to lose the tournament opener, then the first to suffer defeat in all three group-stage games, and only the second to be eliminated at the first hurdle.
Qatar started with a 2-0 defeat to Ecuador on the opening night before losing 3-1 to Senegal and 2-0 to the Netherlands. Germany picked up four points, drawing 1-1 against Spain and beating Costa Rica, but finished below the Spaniards on goal difference.
Ozil, who helped Germany to their fourth World Cup in 2014, is in Qatar, but only to watch some games in a private capacity.
Think you can predict the World Cup Golden Boot Winner? If so, you could WIN £150 in Nike vouchers! CLICK HERE