Germany racist to Ozil: Turkish president

Gulsen Solaker and Julia Harte
The head of Turkish football has announced his support for former Germany player Mesut Ozil

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says the treatment of Mesut Ozil after the soccer star quit Germany's national team is racist and unacceptable.

He spoke to Ozil on Monday night and described the footballer's attitude as meriting the highest level of admiration, adding Ozil's critics "could not stomach" the photograph of the soccer star and Erdogan that prompted criticism ahead of the World Cup.

"Such a racist treatment towards a young man who has given his all to the German national team for his religious beliefs is unacceptable," Erdogan told reporters in parliament on Tuesday.

Authorities in Ozil's ancestral Turkish town have erected a new street sign showing the photo of him in May with Erdogan, replacing one picturing him wearing the international strip of Germany, the country of his birth.

Several prominent officials in Turkey, including the head of the Turkish Football Federation Yildirim Demiroren, have thrown their support behind Ozil since he announced on Sunday that he would not play again for Germany.

"We condemn the treatment, threats and derogatory messages that he has received because of his heritage and background," Demiroren said.

The most prominent German politician of Turkish heritage, Cem Ozdemir, called on Monday for the resignation of German Football Association (DFB) head Reinhard Grindel, who Ozil said had blamed him for Germany's early departure from this year's World Cup in Russia.