German Football Federation (DFB) president Reinhard Grindel has acknowledged he could have taken a different approach to the recent controversy surrounding Mesut Ozil.
Ozil was widely condemned after posing in London for a photograph with authoritarian Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The 29-year-old then struggled to produce his best form as holders Germany surprisingly exited the World Cup in the group stage in Russia.
Ozil subsequently announced his retirement from international football amid accusations of discriminatory behaviour.
Born Gelsenkirchen with Turkish heritage, Ozil claims to have experienced regular abuse and unfair treatment while representing Germany.
And Grindel, having initially played down the attacking midfielder’s concerns, now concedes he might have been able to respond better.
“Regarding the racist attacks, I could have taken a clearer position at some points and stood by Mesut Ozil,” Grindel told Bild.
“I should have been clear with my words. Such attacks are completely unacceptable. I regret that he felt deserted by the DFB.
“It is important to say though, that I said nothing about his sporting performance after the World Cup. For me, it was obvious that we win together and lose together.
“To make an individual player responsible for our exit would be absurd.”
Grindel sought to emphasise that he was unhappy with Ozil for not publicly responding to the Erdogan photo controversy in a similar manner to his team-mate.
“After the photos with President Erdogan, Ilkay Gundogan clearly and understandably made a statement,” he said.
“I would have liked the same from Ozil, because I know from conversations with fans that they too had questions on the matter.
“That must not be misinterpreted as criticism of his sporting performance. I would have liked such an explanation even if we ended up winning the World Cup.”