n October 2010، Angela Merkel paid an unscheduled visit to the Germany dressing-room after their 3-0 home win over Turkey. The chancellor was photographed shaking hands with Mesut Özil، the team’s German-Turkish midfielder and there was the thunderclap of controversy، as the Guardian said. The Deutscher Fussball Bund’s then president، Theo Zwanziger، expressed “irritations”، adding: “The events after the game were certainly not ideal.” With the issue of social integration to the fore، Merkel was accused of exploiting the Nationalmannschaft – and Özil – for political gain. She was forced to clear the air with Zwanziger. Last month، the Turkey president، Recep Tayyip Erdogan، paid a visit to London and he was photographed with Özil and another Germany midfielder with Turkish origins، Ilkay Gündogan. They presented him with signed shirts، with the one Gündogan gave bearing the message: “To my president، with my respects.” There was uproar in Germany and، before the team’s crucial World Cup tie against Sweden on Saturday evening، it is a storm that continues to rumble. Merkel’s spokesman، Steffen Seibert، had said the stunt “threw up questions and invited misunderstandings” and those questions once again hit the nerve that is the debate over dual citizenship and national identity in Germany. To many Germans، Erdogan is not the sort of person with whom to associate. His critics have branded him a dictator who has failed to protect women’s and human rights، curbed freedom of speech and tried to check Turkey’s secular identity. Journalists who write against him have been jailed. “Football and the DFB stands for values that Mr Erdogan does not sufficiently represent،” the governing body’s president، Reinhard Grindel، said. He believed it was “not a good thing” for Özil and Gundogan to have posed with him. Erdogan has called a general election that will take place on Sunday and the photograph with Özil and Gündogan was a PR coup. About 1.2 million people in Germany with Turkish backgrounds are eligible to vote. Erdogan is banned from campaigning on German soil.