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Gundogan, Ozil urged to provide answers on the pitch amid Erdogan photo row

Raf Honigstein explains why a photo of Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is causing problems for Germany.

DFB president Reinhard Grindel has urged Mesut Ozil to give answers on the pitch amid the ongoing row about a photo the Arsenal playmaker and his Germany teammate Ilkay Gundogan had taken with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"We must now find the right answer together. All of us need to give it their all for Germany," Grindel said in the title-holder's first news conference in Russia. "And if someone is not prepared to do it in interviews, then he will show it on the pitch.

"Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundgoan now need the support of the fans and I'd like to think that they will both have it."

The German FA had been criticised for their handling of the row over the photo, which has cast a shadow over Germany's World Cup preparations from day one on, as it was released on social media the day before the announcement of Germany's preliminary World Cup squad.

The photo was not well received within parts of the German fan base, who whistled Ozil and Gundogan during the two pre-World Cup friendlies against Austria and Saudi Arabia.

Both Germany coach Joachim Low and general manager Oliver Bierhoff had hoped to end the debate, without addressing the main issues. The players themselves handled the situation differently.

Gundogan explained himself to selected media last week, while Ozil has refused to discuss the photo in public, and will continue to do so, according to Bierhoff.

Ilkay Gundogan was booed during Germany's friendly vs. Saudi Arabia after appearing in a photo with Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

And Grindel said that "even though Ilkay made a clear statement and did all he could do to explain it, he was whistled regardless.

"There must be something going much deeper than just that photo. We must accept that in 2014 we had a political landscape in which integration was regarded as something positive. But it changed with the migrants coming in around 2015."

"The people see problems and expect clarity, especially commitment to the values of our country."

The picture showing Premier League duo Ozil and Gundogan, both born in the German city of Gelsenkirchen to Turkish parents, with the Turkish president during Erdogan's visit to London in mid-May sparked a major discussion in German society on the integration of Turkish immigrants amid tensions between the two states.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has commented on it, and so has the nation's president Frank-Walter Steinmeier on several occasions.

Earlier this week, Bierhoff suggested that the row could play a role for Low when selecting his starting formation for Germany's first World Cup match versus Mexico on Sunday. But Low said that he hoped that both players "can now turn the switch in their head and focus on what is important for us this week."

The Bundestrainer, however, added that "Ilkay needs to be picked up after the Saudi Arabia match."

Last Friday, with Ozil out injured, Gundogan was booed by large parts of the fans in Leverkusen.

Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.

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