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Mesut Ozil has called for Arsenal and England whizkid Bukayo Saka to be shown “respect” rather than online racism and hate.
The teenage star shone for England at this summer’s European Championships, but missed the decisive spot-kick in the final defeat to Wembley.
Following the final, he, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho – all of whom missed from the spot – were met with racist messages and abuse on social media.
That has led to the wider footballing community and a vast majority of supporters throwing their support behind the trio – while leading to increased pressure on social media companies to better tackle the problem of racism on their respective platforms.
Ozil himself is no stranger to online abuse, having stepped away from the Germany team following the 2018 World Cup due to hate he endured in his home country.
Harry Kane comforts Bukayo Saka after penalty miss
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The 32-year-old also missed a crucial spot-kick back in 2014, one which caused Arsenal to crash out of the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich.
As such, Ozil has a lot of sympathy for his young peer, who will soon be preparing to start another Premier League campaign with the Gunners.
"I felt very much for Bukayo, I know from my own experience how it feels to miss a penalty," the Fenerbahce playmaker 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."
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Ozil added: "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."
With a new campaign on the horizon, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has backed Saka to come back even stronger from the adversity.
Mesut Ozil is a big fan of his former teammate
(Image: via REUTERS)
When the Spaniard was asked whether he'd spoken to Saka since the Euro final, Arteta replied: ‘Yes, I have. We all have, I think, spoken to him, sent messages."
"He will be fine. He is such a strong character.
"He has received a lot of love and support from world football, not only with Arsenal but the national team and all the English fans because he doesn’t deserve anything like [what] he has been through.
"He has had a phenomenal season. In football, you want to be part of the greatest, you have to know today, at 19, that you lose more than you win unfortunately in this game and there are no exceptions to that rule."
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