Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was Mesut Ozil's best man at his wedding

TURKEY-FBL-POLITICS-WEDDING

Mesut Ozil’s friendship with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sparked backlash in Germany.

Ozil’s allegiance to his country was questioned when he posed for photos with Mr. Erdogan before last year’s World Cup.

And when the Arsenal midfielder announced in March that the Turkish leader would be the best man at his wedding, he was criticised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff.

Helge Braun told Bild newspaper that it “makes one sad” that Ozil would make such a choice, considering the reaction to his meeting with Mr. Erdogan before the World Cup.

This reaction played a part in Ozil’s decision to quit international football, citing the “racism and disrespect” he’d experienced over the photos in his home country.

"I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose," Ozil said in a lengthy statement.

The backlash that came Ozil’s way didn’t stop him from choosing Mr. Erdogan to be his best man at his wedding, which was held on Friday.

Turkish president was Ozil's best man

The 30-year-old married his fiancee, former Miss Turkey Amine Gulse, at a luxury hotel in Istanbul.

And there was the Turkish president to deliver a speech at the ceremony.

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Mr. Erdogan regularly attends celebrity marriages in Turkey, especially during election campaigns.

His presence at Ozil’s wedding comes ahead of a re-run of mayoral elections in Istanbul on June 23.

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One day before his wedding, Ozil announced that he and his wife will pay for the treatment of 1,000 children in need.

"Many fans have asked me, my close relatives and friends about our wishes for tomorrow's wedding. As a professional footballer I am in a fortunate and privileged position,” Ozil said.

“However, I invite everyone who is willing and able to help to support a very special project close to both of our hearts that we will undertake with BigShoe.

"Amine and I will bear the expenses for surgeries of 1000 children in need. I’d be happy if in addition, many more treatments all over the world can be fulfilled.”

It’s a class gesture from a player who hasn’t enjoyed the easiest past year.

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