In an interview with Sky Sports, Mesut Özil reacted to the wave of racist abuse received by Bukayo Saka after his missed goal in the Euro 2021 final. Fenerbahçe’s midfielder denounces the situation and takes up the defense of the young English striker, whom he rubbed shoulders with at Arsenal.
He could have been the hero of the nation. But Bukayo Saka finally had the worst moment of his young career, on July 11 at Wembley. The striker of the England team missed his shot on goal in the decisive session against Italy, in the final of Euro 2021 (1-1, 3 tab to 2). His shot stopped by Gianluigi Donnarumma offered the title to Squadra Azzura. And plunge the whole of England into depression.
As is often the case in these cases, fans poured out their frustration and anger on social media. And as too often, some did not hesitate to send racist insults to the Arsenal player, who had to cash the wave of hate from the top of his 19 years. Just like Jadon Sancho (21) and Marcus Rashford (23).
“Saka works very hard”
An episode that Mesut Özil followed closely. The Fenerbahçe midfielder knows Saka well after having worked with him for two years with the Gunners. “Bukayo is a modest young player. He is very determined and works very hard for his dream. He is doing everything he can to make it happen,” the 32-year-old told Sky Sports.
Born in Gelsenkirchen (west of Germany), of Turkish parents, Özil himself denounced the racism he suffered during his career when announcing his international retirement in 2019. “I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose, ”summed up the 2014 world champion with the Nationalmannschaft.
“It hurt me”
He can all the more easily imagine how Saka feels today, whose parents are from Nigeria. “It pained me for him, admits Özil. I know from my own experience what it feels like to miss a penalty. In such a final, taking responsibility for a whole nation when you are a young player, respect! Few players would dare to do that (…) Bukayo is blessed with great talent. I’m sure he will play a lot of great games for the national team in the future. “
There remains this scourge of racism, which rages with impunity on social networks. Awareness campaigns have taken place recently. Without much success. Özil is also quite pessimistic on the issue. The former Real Madrid metronome even seems determined to live with these drifts.
“There will always be people who will be guilty of racist abuse and who will find scapegoats in case of defeat, depending on the different origins and skin colors, he believes. A small part of our community will insult and will always threaten players in a racist manner “.