Mesut Özil has not given his World Cup bonus money to the children of Gaza despite reports claiming the World Cup winner had, after the Germany international cleared up the rumours by revealing he was funding sick children in Brazil to undergo surgery, reports UK-based daily The Independent.
Özil was part of the Germany side that defeated Argentina in the World Cup final thanks to Mario Götze’s extra-time winner, handing the Germans their fourth World Cup success in their history.
Reports emerged that following the victory and the high-profile celebrations which included German Chancellor Angela Merkel and singer Rihanna, Özil had pledged to give his bonus to those children currently suffering in Gaza due to the on-going turmoil between Palestine and Israel.
Özil’s representative confirmed that the Arsenal star had not donated his money to them, and has been giving money to 11 sick children in Brazil to undergo surgery, The Independent report said.
The 25-year-old would then take to his Facebook page to clear up the confusion, and reveal that he would use the bonus money to help fund more operations, with plans to take that number to 23 to replicate the number of players in the victorious Germany squad.
“The claim that Mesut donated money to Gaza is not true,” said the midfielder's representative Roland Eitel.
“Prior to the #WorldCup I supported the surgery of eleven sick children. Since the victory of the #WorldCup is not only due to eleven players but to our whole team, I will now raise the number to 23. This is my personal thank-you for the hospitality of the people of Brazil. #Bigshoe #Brasil2014”
The move has been widely praised in the football world given that a number of footballers are often caught up in controversy and slated for their actions. Özil’s gesture, both kind and thoughtful, is a reminder that actions as small as helping sick children makes a big difference for those involved, and perhaps the Germany international can act as an example to his team-mate Jack Wilshere.
The England midfielder, who did not enjoy the best of World Cup campaigns along with the rest of the Three Lions’ squad, was caught up in a second smoking controversy in nine months after he was pictured in Las Vegas smoking and drinking in a swimming pool, with international team-mates Joe Hart and James Milner also in attendance.