Mesut Ozil called on Bukayo Saka to be shown ‘respect’ rather than be subjected to online racism and hate after the youngster’s penalty miss in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.
An inspired Gianluigi Donnarumma saved Saka’s decisive spot-kick in a nail-biting shootout at Wembley to ensure Italy lifted the trophy for jsu a second time in their history, while England’s painstaking 55-year wait for silverware continued.
In the hours that followed, Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho – who all failed to convert their penalties – were bombarded with a torrent of racist messages, leading to increased pressure on social media companies to try and end the problem.
The young trio have received waves of support from the general public, while they have all addressed the disgraceful abuse they endured via lengthy statements.
Saka vowed to come back stronger as he opened up on his ordeal for the first time last week. And now Ozil, the teenager’s former team-mate at The Emirates, has reached out with a heartfelt message.
Ozil missed a crucial penalty of his own as the Gunners crashed out of the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich back in 2014 and he had complete sympathy for the young winger.
Saka should be applauded not abused
“I felt very much for Bukayo, I know from my own experience how it feels to miss a penalty,” Ozil, who now plays for Fenerbahce, told Sky Sports.
“In a final, as the last one, to take on the responsibility of an entire nation as a young player – respect. Not many players would dare to do that.
“There will always be people who racially abuse and scapegoat people of different backgrounds and skin colour when they lose.
“Unfortunately, there will always be a small part of our community that racially insults and threatens players.
“We should focus much more on the positive messages that keep players strong.”