Ozil urged to ‘fight facism and racism in Turkey’ by former Germany youth international

Mesut Ozil has been urged to “fight fascist and racist attacks” in Turkey and around the world by former Germany youth international Deniz Naki.

The Arsenal star announced his international retirement from Germany citing ‘disrespect and racism’ in a three-part statement on Sunday which came in the wake of criticism of the midfielder’s World Cup performance and his pre-tournament meeting with controversial Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ozil’s decision has been backed by some of his team-mates at club and country level, but former St Pauli and Genclerbirligi midfielder Naki believes he should do more to highlight injustices in Turkey and around the world.

“In your statement, you are justified in responding to the racism you have encountered and your reasons for leaving the national team,” Naki wrote on Instagram.

“But why you are not showing this response when there are more and more racist and fascist attacks in Turkey on me or on Kurdish or other minority footballers?”

A German-born Kurd, Naki most recently played for Turkey Second League side Amed but was banned from playing professional football in the country for three years in January for spreading ‘separatist and ideological propaganda.’

Earlier that month, the 28-year-old was shot at while driving on the Autobahn in Germany, later claiming that the attempt on his life was politically motivated due to his outspoken statements on Erdogan, who he referred to as an ‘ideological lawbreaker.’

“I think that this is about a political issue,” Naki told Bento. “I am a continual target in Turkey because I make pro-Kurdish statements.”

Naki’s Instagram post to Ozil also asked him where he stood on Turkey’s treatment of Kurdish people within its borders, where the Turkish government has banned the use of the words ‘Kurds’, ‘Kurdish’ and even ‘Kurdistan’ itself.

The former Germany Under-19 international urged Ozil to make a stand against racism in Turkey against the Kurdish people, but also racism globally, claiming fascists are ‘everywhere.’

“You say you find the explanations of the DFB wrong,” Naki continued. 

“In Turkey, a footballer’s career was ended: a person standing for peace was labeled as a terrorist. What was your reaction in this regard?

 “Why do those who see you as ‘native’ and ‘national’ in Turkey see me as a ‘terrorist’? Why do those who support your ‘Turkish existence’ accept it but not my ‘Kurdishness’?

“Those who will welcome you with open arms on your next trip to Turkey will be exactly the same people who have racially attacked me. There is no distinction between fascists, they are the same everywhere, in every country.

“I urge you not only to fight against fascism and racism in Germany, but also against any kind of it in the world. 

“I urge you to bring attention to the Kurds in Turkey facing racism and also to combat it.”

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German FA president Grindel refuses to resign and rejects Ozil racism accusation

German Football Federation (DFB) president Reinhard Grindel has rejected Mesut Ozil’s accusation of racism and made no indication that he plans to bow to pressure and resign.

Ozil stepped away from international football on Sunday after releasing a three-part statement in which he hit out at the DFB, Grindel and the media after being widely condemned alongside team-mate Ilkay Gundogan for meeting with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan prior to the World Cup.

The former Real Madrid man, who has Turkish roots, claimed the DFB and Grindel, who said the stars “let themselves be misused” for a publicity stunt, had not done enough to protect him following Joachim Low’s side’s group-stage exit in Russia. Ozil suggested he had been made a scapegoat due to his background, even stating: “If we win, I’m German. If we lose, I’m an immigrant.”

The DFB on Monday rejected Ozil’s claims of racism and reiterated their belief that the player should have explained his motive behind the meeting, as Gundogan did.

Erdogan is a controversial figure and his get-together with Ozil and Gundogan came at a time when several German citizens were being held on political charges as part of a crackdown on free speech in Turkey.

And as the issue continues to generate discussion, Grindel has vowed to tackle it head on.

“Football has a high socio-political relevance,” Grindel’s statement began. “This is underlined by the discussions of the past few days.

“The resignation statement by Mesut Ozil has triggered a debate on racism in general and the ability of football to integrate in particular. As DFB president, I do not want to escape this debate.

“The performance at the World Cup has questioned many things. Of course, I also ask myself what I could have done better during this time.

“I openly admit that the personal criticism hit me. Even more, I feel sorry for my colleagues, the many volunteers at the base and the staff in the DFB, to be called in connection with racism. For the association and for me personally, I reject this decidedly.

“The values of the DFB are also my values. Diversity, solidarity, anti-discrimination and integration are all values and beliefs that are close to my heart.

“During my time at the DFB, I have been able to experience what football can do for integration, and I am very proud of how much we move in our association, in the national associations, in each individual club.

“We live our values. That’s why we as the DFB have critically questioned the photo with the Turkish president Erdogan. I deeply regret that this was misused [by fans] for racist slogans.

“Looking back, as president I should have said unequivocally what is natural for me as a person and for all of us as a federation: any form of racist hostility is unbearable, unacceptable and intolerable.

“That was true in the case of Jerome Boateng, this applies to Mesut Ozil, as well as to all players who have a migration background.

“In the conference with my colleagues from the national associations and in the presidium with the representatives of the amateur and the professional sector, we have defined a common line. It is now for the DFB to tackle three key issues.

“Firstly, we need to take the ongoing debate on integration and the changing sounding board for this issue in our society as an opportunity to develop our work in this area and to ask where and how we can give new impetus.

“Secondly, as a consequence of the disappointing World Cup, there must be a sound athletic analysis, from which the right conclusions are drawn in order to play enthusiastic, successful football again. That is the task of the sports management, whom we have given the necessary time.

“And thirdly, we all have the great common goal of winning the bid for the hosting of the 2024 European Championship. For all these projects we work together in the coming weeks and months with great commitment.

“The tournament can tell a new story of football, bring children into the clubs, bring people closer together. With and without migration background. United by football.”

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Arsenal pre-season 2018-19: Fixtures, transfers, squad numbers & complete Premier League schedule

Arsenal will begin life after Arsene Wenger in 2018-19 as they embark on a new era with a new manager, Unai Emery, at the helm.

Fans will soon see what the iconic Frenchman’s successor has to offer when the club get their pre-season under way ahead of the new campaign.

The north London side are back in the International Champions Cup this summer, which means they will have games against top opposition in Asia and Europe to look forward to as a warm-up exercise.

This is your complete guide to the Gunners’ 2018-19 pre-season and Premier League fixtures, with dates, venues and all you need to know about the preparations.

Arsenal pre-season fixtures

Date Match Time (UK / US ET) Venue
Jul 14 Boreham Wood 0-8 Arsenal 3pm / 10am  Meadow Park, Hertfordshire
Jul 26 Atletico Madrid 1-1 (3-1 pens) Arsenal 12:35pm / 7:35am  Singapore National Stadium
Jul 28 Arsenal vs Paris Saint-Germain 12:35pm / 7:35am Singapore National Stadium
Aug 1 Arsenal vs Chelsea 8:05pm / 3:05pm Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Aug 4 Arsenal vs Lazio 7pm / 2pm Friends Arena, Stockholm

Arsenal will be one of five English clubs taking part in the 2018 International Champions Cup and they will play three games in the competition. 

While the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool will be competing in the United States, Arsenal’s games will be held in Singapore, with their final game taking place in Ireland.

First up the Gunners renew acquaintance with their Europa League conquerors Atletico Madrid at Singapore National Stadium on July 26, so they will have a chance to redeem themselves.

Two days after that at the same venue they lock horns with Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain and they return to Europe on August 1 for the final game.

Arsenal’s 2018-19 squad numbers

Squad No. Position Player
1 GK Petr Cech
2 DF Hector Bellerin
4 MF Mohamed Elneny
5 DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos
6 DF Laurent Koscielny
7 MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan
8 MF Aaron Ramsey
9 FW Alexandre Lacazette
10 MF Mesut Ozil
11 MF Lucas Torreira
12 DF Stephen Licsteiner
13 GK David Ospina
14 FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
15 MF Ainsley Maitland-Niles
16 DF Rob Holding
17 FW Alex Iwobi
18 DF Nacho Monreal
19 GK Bernd Leno
20 DF Shkodran Mustafi
21 DF Calum Chambers
22 MF Jeff Reine-Adelaide
23 FW Danny Welbeck
25 DF Carl Jenkinson
26 GK Emiliano Martinez
27 DF Konstantinos Mavropanos
28 FW Lucas Perez
29 MF Matteo Guendouzi
31 DF Sead Kolasinac
32 FW Chuba Akpom
34 MF Granit Xhaka

Arsenal’s 2018-19 transfer activity

Arsenal have been relatively quiet in the transfer window so far, though arguably their biggest signing and departure happened when Emery replaced Wenger as boss.

The Gunenrs released long-term squad player Jack Wilshere to West Ham after the midfielder spent 10 years at the club, progressing through their youth academy but struggling to maintain steady match fitness.

They also released Santi Cazorla to La Liga side Villareal, while signing defender Stephan Lichsteiner from Juventus on a free transfer. Their biggest signing so far has been in their €29 million (£26m/$34m) coup of Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria.

Transfer activity in

Position Player Transferred from Fee Date
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner Juventus Free June 5
GK Bernd Leno Bayer Leverkusen £19m June 19
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos Borussia Dortmund £15 July 2
MF Lucas Torreira Sampdoria £26m July 10
MF Matteo Guendouzi Lorient £7m July 11

Transfer activity out

Position Player Transferred to Fee Date
DF Per Mertesacker Retired N/A May 17
MF Santi Cazorla Villareal Free May 21
MF Jack Wilshere West Ham Free June 19

Arsenal’s 2018-19 Premier League fixtures

The 2018-19 Premier League season will get started on August 11, with the full fixture list revealed on June 14.

Emery’s first competitive match as Gunners boss sees him lock horns with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at the Emirates and he’ll follow that with a London derby away to Chelsea.

Another London derby is in store on matchday three as they welcome West Ham to the Emirates, with away clashes against Cardiff City and Newcastle United rounding out the first five games.

The first North London derby of the campaign will take place at the Emirates on December 1, with a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United following three days later.

You can see Arsenal’s full Premier League schedule for 2017-18 below.

Date Time Match
12/08/2018 16:00 Arsenal v Manchester City
18/08/2018 17:30 Chelsea v Arsenal
25/08/2018 15:00 Arsenal v West Ham United
02/09/2018 13:30 Cardiff City v Arsenal
15/09/2018 15:00 Newcastle United v Arsenal
23/09/2018 16:00 Arsenal v Everton
29/09/2018 15:00 Arsenal v Watford
06/10/2018 15:00 Fulham v Arsenal
20/10/2018 15:00 Arsenal v Leicester City
27/10/2018 15:00 Crystal Palace v Arsenal
03/11/2018 15:00 Arsenal v Liverpool
10/11/2018 15:00 Arsenal v Wolverhampton
24/11/2018 15:00 A.F.C. Bournemouth v Arsenal
01/12/2018 15:00 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur
04/12/2018 20:00 Manchester United v Arsenal
08/12/2018 15:00 Arsenal v Huddersfield Town
15/12/2018 15:00 Southampton v Arsenal
22/12/2018 15:00 Arsenal v Burnley
26/12/2018 15:00 Brighton v Arsenal
29/12/2018 15:00 Liverpool v Arsenal
01/01/2019 15:00 Arsenal v Fulham
12/01/2019 15:00 West Ham United v Arsenal
19/01/2019 15:00 Arsenal v Chelsea
29/01/2019 19:45 Arsenal v Cardiff City
02/02/2019 15:00 Manchester City v Arsenal
09/02/2019 15:00 Huddersfield Town v Arsenal
23/02/2019 15:00 Arsenal v Southampton
26/02/2019 19:45 Arsenal v A.F.C. Bournemouth
02/03/2019 15:00 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
09/03/2019 15:00 Arsenal v Manchester United
16/03/2019 15:00 Wolverhampton v Arsenal
30/03/2019 15:00 Arsenal v Newcastle United
06/04/2019 15:00 Everton v Arsenal
13/04/2019 15:00 Watford v Arsenal
20/04/2019 15:00 Arsenal v Crystal Palace
27/04/2019 15:00 Leicester City v Arsenal
04/05/2019 15:00 Arsenal v Brighton
12/05/2019 15:00 Burnley v Arsenal

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Ferguson thanks hospital staff and promises Old Trafford return after recovering from brain surgery

Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has thanked hospital staff for saving his life in his first public appearance since undergoing an operation following a brain haemorrhage.

The 76-year-old was rushed to hospital in May, less than a week after appearing at Old Trafford for Arsene Wenger’s final visit in charge of Arsenal.

United at the time stated the procedure had gone “very well” and the Scot was released from hospital at the beginning of June to continue his recovery at home.

He has now appeared in a video published by the club, thanking the medical professionals who treated him and the well-wishers who provided words of support.

A healthy-looking Ferguson began his message by noting his appreciation of the staff at Macclesfield District General Hospital, Salford Royal and the Alexandra Hospital.

“Believe me, without those people, who gave me such great care, I would not be sitting here today,” he said.

“So, thank you from me and my family. Thank you very much.

“It is has made me feel so humble has all the messages I’ve had from all over the world, wishing me the best. The good wishes do resonate very, very strongly with me, so thank you for that support you’ve given me.

“Lastly, I’ll be back later in the season to watch the team. In the meantime, all the best to Jose [Mourinho] and the players.”

Ferguson won a 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions Leagues in a remarkable 27-year spell in charge, having previously led Aberdeen to three Scottish Premier League triumphs and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.

His illness triggered messages of support from across the football world, with past and present United players joining the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, FIFA and UEFA in wishing him a speedy recovery.

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Allegri ‘happy’ for maturing Pogba but won’t discuss Juventus return

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri admits Paul Pogba’s performances at the World Cup caught his eye but stopped short of expressing an interest in bringing the midfielder back to Turin.

After a season of mixed fortunes at Manchester United, where he impressed and frustrated across the course of a campaign that yielded only runners-up spots in the Premier League and FA Cup, Pogba was inspirational for France in Russia and scored in their 4-2 final victory over Croatia.

The 25-year-old’s international team-mate Blaise Matuidi called for Pogba to return to Juventus amid France’s celebrations, and it has been rumoured he would be interested in heading back to Serie A to link up with new signing Cristiano Ronaldo.

Allegri – who allowed Pogba to leave Juventus for an initial €105million ($123m) in August 2016 after four glittering seasons with the Bianconeri – praised the midfielder for coming of age at the World Cup but would not confirm any concrete interest in a transfer.

“I can only say I’m happy for having seen him grown up in an important competition like the World Cup,” Allegri told reporters.

“He played with great personality. Compared to the past, he matured a lot.”

Allegri watched his players beat Bayern Munich 2-0 on Wednesday in the International Champions Cup, and he praised new arrivals Emre Can and Joao Cancelo for “improving the team” in their first pre-season outing.

Juve’s goals were scored by 21-year-old forward Andrea Favilli but Allegri indicated that it was too soon for him to compete for a first-team place.

“Favilli is a good player,” he said.

“He has great potential and great skills, but I think he is about to move to Genoa on loan for next year.”

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