Back in August, Mesut Özil and Sead Kolašinac were attacked in a robbery attempt. Their attackers pled guilty. One was sentenced to 10 years in prison, the other remains to be sentenced. Not surprisingly, Özil either hired or already had private security guards outside his house, and one of his security detail appeared in court today to testify about an unrelated August incident.
Salaman Ekinci and Ferhat Ercun, two Londoners of Turkish descent, are accused of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner outside the German midfielder’s home. Kemil Seze, Özil’s security guard, said the pair were first spotted around 7:30 pm, returned after dark and were chased off, and returned a third time after midnight before the guards detained them for police to arrive.
The guard said the two men were yelling obscenities in Turkish, threatening sexual violence against Özil’s mother, and threatening to kill the guards and Özil. The defendants deny using the language and claim the security guards attacked them.
Regardless of the outcome of this latest proceeding, there is a lot to unpack. This happened way back in August, and we are just learning about it now. It’s a good reminder that even in the age of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, there is a good deal we don’t know.
In particular, we have little idea what is going on behind the scenes in the personal lives of footballers (or other humans, generally). We get snippets of the fun things, the dinners, the shopping, the cars, the jokes, but people generally don’t share the negatives. Perhaps for Özil, one of those unshared, negatives is/was worrying about his personal safety and that of his wife. I’d guess something like that takes a significant toll on your ability to perform at full capacity at the office. To that end, we should keep in mind that a player’s arguably poor (or at least diminished) performance on the pitch might be the result of things completely unrelated to football.
In a similar vein, professional athletes deal with a host of concerns, annoyances, and just plain old stuff that we, as non-athletes, probably don’t know about and almost definitely don’t understand in the same way. We can guess at what the lack of privacy, the always being recognized in public, etc. feels like, but we haven’t lived it. We don’t know.
Yes, they are handsomely compensated for their skills and having a lot of money can help, but at the end of the day, athletes are human. We’d do well to remember that. I hope that this incident resolves in a way that puts Özil at ease and that he doesn’t have to deal with anything like this again. Nobody should have to.