Germany makes Mesut Ozil the scapegoat for World Cup exit

Same coach, same team manager, same president. And yet after almost two weeks of reflection, the German soccer federation (DFB) appears to have decided midfielder Mesut Ozil is the main culprit for the team's shock early World Cup exit.

Team manager Oliver Bierhoff wondered in a newspaper interview if Ozil should even have been taken to the tournament in Russia, while DFB president Reinhard Grindel followed up by demanding the player provide an "answer."

Joachim Loew has not commented on the matter since deciding to stay on as coach.

Ozil, long a key player for Loew, has been in the firing line since he and national teammate Ilkay Gundogan posed for photos with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May. Both German-born players have Turkish roots.

While Gundogan attempted to distance himself from the incident in Britain, Ozil has maintained his silence - antagonizing the same people who said the issue had been dealt with before the World Cup.

"Only DFB officials can come up with the idea that a photo with Erdogan is responsible for a defeat against the football-giants of South Korea," North Rhine-Westphalia minister president Armin Laschet said on Twitter.

Following Germany's first-round exit, Bierhoff told newspaper Die Welt it might have been better to omit Ozil from the tournament. Bierhoff pulled back after criticism, saying it was a misunderstanding and he did not intend to single out any player for the team's failure.

But Grindel kept the issue alive, telling the latest edition of Kicker magazine: "It's true that Mesut has not commented yet. That has disappointed a lot of fans because they have questions and expect an answer. They are right to expect this answer. That's why it's totally clear for me that Mesut should speak on the issue."

Ozil has been one of Germany's standout players since starring at the 2010 World Cup. His performances earned a switch from Schalke to Real Madrid. He has made 92 appearances for Germany, contributing 23 goals from midfield.