German Football Association (DFB) President Reinhard Grindel said on Sunday he should have been more supportive of Mesut Özil when the midfielder was the target of "racist attacks".
Özil, 29, announced his international retirement last month after Germany crashed out of the World Cup. He said he had faced "racism and disrespect" because of his Turkish roots.
Özil, who had been a key member of the 2014 World Cup-winning side, had faced a barrage of criticism for having his photograph taken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in May and for his performances at the World Cup in Russia.
In his resignation statement last month, Özil, who has Turkish roots, also accused the DFB and Grindel of failing to back him in the row over the photo.
He complained of facing "racism and disrespect", due to his Turkish roots, and specifically took aim at Grindel in a three-page statement.
"In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose," Özil wrote damningly, sparking fierce debate about integration in Germany.
In an interview with Bild newspaper on Sunday, Grindel said he should have handled things differently.
"I should have positioned myself more clearly given the racist attacks from some corners and I should have put myself in front of Mesut Özil," Grindel said.
"Such attacks are unacceptable. I should have found clear words."
Özil had been jeered in Germany's last warm-up games before the World Cup and many German fans had called for him to be dropped from the squad over the photo.
"I am sorry he feels let down by the DFB," Grindel added.
Özil was made one of the scapegoats for Germany's earliest exit at a World Cup for 80 years in Russia, the side failing to get out of the group stage despite being the defending champions.
Grindel, however, said he had never blamed Özil for that failure.
"It was always clear for me that we win together and we lose together. It would be absurd to blame one single player for our elimination," the 56-year-old, who took over the DFB in 2016, said.
He also ruled out resigning over the affair, saying he felt "strong backing from regional federations and the Bundesliga".
Grindel said the door is not closed for Özil to play for Germany again under head coach Joachim Loew, who has always supported the attacking midfielder.
"The board (of the DFB) and the national coach would need to discuss that together," said Grindel.
"But so far there has not been a discussion between Joachim Loew and Mesut Özil, which I know would be very important to the national coach."
Loew has promised sweeping changes to the squad he will announce on August 29 to face World Cup winners France in Munich on September 6.
Grindel wants to bring the Germany team closer to the public with cheaper tickets for home internationals and open training sessions.
Germany's World Cup slogan - 'Best Never Rest' - was criticized by fans and Grindel admits the marketing around the team hit the wrong note.
"I also think the concept around the term 'die Mannschaft' (the team) is perceived as very artificial. We should put that to the test," Grindel added.
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