By Zara Riffler and Darian Leiber
Football world champion Mesut Özil (34) caused a stir with a photo on Instagram.
On Saturday, the Turkish personal trainer Alper Aksaç published a recording with the ex-professional, both showing their well-trained bodies to the camera.
If you take a closer look, you can see a gray wolf on Özil’s left breast. It seems as if the 92-time German national player had this tattooed. A political symbol for a far-right organization.
What exactly do the Gray Wolves stand for?
The three crescents together with a howling wolf are the symbol of the Turkish far-right Gray Wolves. The flag with the three crescents (“Üç Hilal”) served as a war flag in the Ottoman Empire and is today the party logo of the Turkish right-wing extremist party MHP (“Nationalist Movement Party”).
The movement of the “Grey Wolves” (“Ülkücü”) emerged with and from the party – the ideology ranges from right-wing extremism to nationalist racism and anti-Semitism to Islamism.
In Germany, the ultra-nationalist organizations of the “Grey Wolves” are monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. It is now the largest right-wing extremist organization in Germany: it is believed to have around 20,000 followers.
The MHP is a close ally of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (69) and, together with Erdogan’s AKP (“Justice and Development Party”), has a majority in the Turkish parliament. Erdogan is also politically and ideologically close to the Gray Wolves – repeatedly shows the wolf salute in public!
Mesut Özil (26.9 million followers on Instagram) himself is Erdogan’s most popular supporter. He seeks closeness and is an ardent fan of Erdogan.
About two days before the Turkish elections, he posted a kind of appeal for Erdogan on Twitter. To see in a photo: a beaming Özil shaking Erdogan’s hand. The words: “We are always with you, Mr. President.” He commented on the re-election of the President at the end of May with the words “God be praised”.
The connection between Özil and Erdogan goes far beyond political supporters.︎ In 2019, the Turkish President was not only a guest at the wedding of Özil and Amine Gülse (30) – he was Özil’s best man and gave a speech to the couple.
Özil played in the Bundesliga for Schalke and Bremen, then for Real Madrid, Arsenal FC, Fenerbahce and most recently for Basaksehir. This year the midfielder ended his career.