The Optics of Ozil

Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil earns a staggering 350k a week. He hasn’t played for Arsenal since March. Here’s one reason why.

Arsenal are a global brand.

The amount the club can haggle in global sponsorships is directly impacted by their fan engagement globally.

It’s why the club go on crazy-long preseason tours, exhausting the players who pitch up for ‘meaningless’ friendlies in far flung places.

It’s the business of football.

Ozil might play football but he doesn’t play ball.

He’s not interested in the corporate machine.

He will call out injustice where he sees it.

From alleged racism in the German national team to the rights of the Uighur Muslims in China.

The last time this happened Arsenal had to distance themselves from Ozil after a Chinese broadcaster cancelled an Arsenal match in retribution.

China is a huge and highly valuable market for Arsenal and their highest paid player is no longer a business asset.

Not only is he not scoring or assisting on the pitch, he’s scoring own goals off it.

Controversy makes him a business liability, not helped by his public alignment with President Erdogan of Turkey who was best man at his recent wedding.

Meanwhile, off pitch causes are working for Manchester United starlet, Marcus Rushford.

He is enriching the reputation of Manchester United by fighting for free school meals for vulnerable children.

All of this means the Ozil optics aren’t good.

And this isn’t good for the business of football.

Arsenal are now effectively paying millions of pounds for Ozil not to play. When the rest of the team took a pandemic 12.5% pay cut, he refused.

I would love him to return and shine but sadly the damage has been done.

And as Mesut has found, all of this means that even after offering to pay the Arsenal mascot’s wages, his behaviour has taken a Gunnersaurus-sized chunk out of his career.