Former Arsenal star Mesut Ozil says Bukayo Saka deserves respect for stepping up in England’s Euro 2020 final penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy and has urged the teenager to stay strong in the face of racism.
Saka missed the decisive penalty and was subjected to racist abuse on social media following the game along with team-mates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, who were also unable to convert from the spot.
Former Arsenal playmaker Ozil empathised with Saka over his penalty shoot-out heartbreak and offered his support to the 19-year-old in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports News.
At the time he tweeted: “I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” – a message that was echoed by many in response to the racist abuse aimed at England’s young black players.
The 32-year-old says the problem is not going away.
England’s Kalvin Phillips and Luke Shaw comfort teammate Bukayo Saka after he failed to score a penalty during a penalty shootout after extra time during of the Euro 2020 soccer championship final match between England and Italy at Wembley
“There will always be people who racially abuse and scapegoat people of different backgrounds and skin colour when they lose,” he added.
Asked if he has any advice for the Saka, Sancho and Rashford, Ozil said: “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.”