German national football team player İlkay Gündoğan was booed by supporters during a friendly between Germany and Saudi Arabia in Leverkusen on Friday over his visit to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in London.
Gündoğan and Mesut Özil, both German stars of Turkish origin, had a photo taken with Erdoğan on May 13 that was circulated on social media with the words “my president,” sparking controversy in Germany.
Prime Minister Angela Merkel on May 15 said the visit might have caused misunderstandings since they were German national football team players and role models for German youth.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier later invited Gündoğan and Özil for a meeting in his office.
“It was important to both of them to clear up the misunderstandings,” Steinmeier stated after the meeting.
Gündoğan entered the game in the 57th minute as a substitute for Marco Reus, when German spectators immediately started booing him.
The German team’s coach, Joachim Löw, criticized the fans during an interview on ARD after the game.
“He’s a member of the national team. That [booing] doesn’t help anyone,” Löw said.
Germany, a favorite for the World Cup starting on June 14, won the game 2-1.