The German national football team, the winner of the last World Cup and favorites coming into the World Cup 2018 in Russia, was shockingly eliminated in the first round. For some, the occasion was not as shocking as it seemed. We, as Daily Sabah, warned before the first kick off that the racist attacks against players of Turkish origin Mesut Özil and İlkay Gündoğan had created a toxic environment harmful to the morale of the team, especially players from minority backgrounds, and that the team was in danger of imploding.
Before the start of the championships, everything seemed perfect. Every single strand of coach Joachim Low's hair seemed perfectly placed. The dozen or so slim-fit T-shirts that showed his muscular body were also clean and ready.
The team seemed ready. All the best players who had created a sense of inevitability about their championship in 2014 were on the team. The much-respected and machine-like precision of the German team would again sweep all and take the trophy everyone believed it deserved.
Everything seemed to be set for a repeat of the last cup. Everything but the series of racist attacks that targeted two of the best players on the team.
What were these two guilty of? What kind of grievous crimes had these two committed?
They met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his visit to London in May and posed for a few photographs.
Afterwards, all hell broke loose. First, it was the openly racist Alternative for Germany (AfD) that attacked the duo, calling for their removal from the team. Then, it was the so-called mainstream politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, who criticized the two players. When their leaders acted this way, it was natural for the fans to take their cues from the racists and call for the removal of the players from the team. Whistles, boos and xenophobic chants accompanied each and every game they played thereafter.
Just imagine what these two players were feeling. Just imagine what their teammates with other minority backgrounds felt.
It was unfortunate but not a surprise that Low had the opportunity to wear only three of his tight T-shirts. All the photo opportunities that presented themselves during the cup were of a fuming Low clueless about what had happened to his team.
With the way Germany as a nation behaved in allowing two of their national players to be victimized, it should be obvious that this World Cup collapse is just the beginning of a broader bankruptcy. The coming generation of minority athletes, artists, writers, businessmen, politicians, scientists and more will now think twice before serving the country they grew up in.
"Without Ozil we would have won!" tweeted AfD lawmaker Jens Maie, showing that he believes he and those like him have not done Germany enough harm. Germany faces an era of social and economic disorder if it does nothing to curb its rising racism, which is fast becoming a part of political discourse in Germany. The last time Germany was eliminated in the first round of a World Cup was 1938, a year that must have roused action in some Germans to prevent the repetition of past mistakes.