The side to Mesut Özil mainstream media will not show you
Today’s blog is going to be a little different to the others I usually do.
I want to focus on something MOST sections of the English media hardly ever bother covering.
When news broke out that Mesut Özil had rejected a pay-cut, several figures from the British mainstream media started doing what they do best – Vilifying Özil and branding him names such as ‘money minded’, ‘greedy’ and making other such derogatory and baseless allegations.
The truth is that very few footballers do more for charity and helping people who are suffering than Özil. While every footballer tends to do their part, Mesut does a lot more and has gone out of his way on numerous occasions to put a smile on the face of someone in agony.
Mesut Özil once said: ‘Assisting goals gives me more satisfaction than scoring.’
This is a philosophy which he has carried into his life outside of football. Mesut is as generous off the pitch as he is, on it.
Most of us should consider ourselves fortunate not to be born with disabilities. But for children who do have such issues, life can be really grim. On one hand, many don’t have the money required to take care of their basic needs and on the other, there is a psychological aspect to life when you are seen as ‘different’ by society and cannot experience certain privileges a so called ”normal” person can enjoy.
Özil not only takes care of the educational needs of many such children, he also welcomes differently-able children every month into the Emirates to watch Arsenal – even allowing them into the dressing room to take pictures with any player they wish to.
Mesut puts a smile on the faces of underprivileged children that they will remember and carry with for the rest of their lives, giving them a sense of hope and purpose.
A huge reason why most of Özil’s work so far has been centered around helping children is due to his own childhood.
His parents moved to Germany as Muslim immigrants at a time when the unemployment rate for migrants was around 70%. His parents needed to switch from one low paying job to another and took up odd cleaning jobs to help bring up the family.
Mesut did not have much growing up and as someone who knows what that feels like, he has taken it upon himself to bettering young children’ lives.
Speaking to German outlet Deutsche Welle, Ozil stated : “The main aim is that you give children a positive future. There are lots of kids out there who really can barely enjoy life. Our goal is just to make their lives a little nicer.”
Mesut works with a children’s charity known as ‘Rays of Sunshine’ as well as ‘Big Shoe’ – Both these initiatives have helped seriously ill young children all around the world get treatment and required support, which they previously could not afford.
From Bangalore in India, to small villages in Africa, to the United Kingdom, Turkey and several other countries – Özil has played a vital role in getting thousands of children the help they deserve.
He has also been a consistent contributor for the Arsenal foundation, often doing more than what a player is just contractually obliged to do.
After winning the world Cup in 2014, he donated his entire bonus of close to £240,000 for financing 23 life saving surgeries for children in Brazil.
This was expanded even further in the 2018 World Cup.
Whilst Mesut was getting attacked racially by several right wing politicians and media outlets in Germany, he was busy financing and leading the initiative to ensure over 1000 children around the world get the life-changing surgeries they so desperately need.
Right now, Özil is expanding his efforts into more remote parts of Africa. In addition to helping villages with their healthcare needs, he also distributes Arsenal jerseys with his name on the back, other accessories and gifts, a source of great happiness and sense of belonging for the villagers.
We should also give credit to his agent, Dr Erkut Sögüt who plays a vital role in laying the groundwork and building a team of highly capable individuals that seek to serve society. He has helped bring in some of the finest doctors from around the world as part of the initiative to provide treatment to those that need it the most.
When Özil got engaged, he fed over 100,000 people stranded in refugee camps across Turkey and Syria – Many of whom have lost their homes, loved ones and are struggling to find a purpose in life as a result of the war.
Mesut has consistently donated to help better the lives of refugees over the years and usually arranges meals for them during important Islamic festivals.
Mesut’s efforts over the years saw him win a public service award for helping in betterment of societies across the world and being named ‘German Football Ambassador’. He even used the prize money from this award to help young burn victims in Africa.
People should think twice before criticizing Özil for not taking a pay-cut.
Firstly, he hasn’t even outright refused – He wants more time to be sure that the cut from his money is being channeled appropriately. And it is a valid concern to have to worry about whether these funds are better utilized for developing a struggling society, or easing the financial burden for someone who has a net worth of more than $10 billion.
The underlying point is that Özil isn’t going to be a sheep and accept a cut just because everyone did – He is going to make a calculated decision by keeping societal interest in mind.
Those that say his donations and initiatives arean’t much for what he earns and comments like ‘he is doing things for publicity’ should be ignored.
Maybe, just maybe if such people focused on bettering society themselves instead of using their time to criticize someone who has made a huge difference, there would be lesser suffering and the world would be a better place to live.