Mesut Ozil has explained why he refused to take a pay cut amid the coronavirus pandemic, insisting that there were many unanswered questions and that he had a right to “know everything” regarding Arsenal’s use of the finances.
It was confirmed back in April that members of the Gunners’ playing staff and coaching team had agreed to a 12.5 per cent pay cut to support the club during a financially unstable time linked to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Former Germany international Ozil was one of those that decided against a wage cut and he attracted widespread criticism as a result, with many pointing to his £350k-a-week salary and his status as Arsenal’s highest earner.
And the 31-year-old has now broken his silence over the controversial decision, claiming that the Gunners didn’t provide enough information relating to the request, and that he had significant commitments to his family and charities to also consider.
He told the Athletic:
“As players, we all wanted to contribute. But we needed more information and many questions were unanswered.
“Everyone was fine with a deferral while there was so much uncertainty – I would have been OK to take a bigger share – and then a cut if required, once the football and financial outlook was clearer. But we were rushed into it without proper consultation.
“For anyone in this situation, you have a right to know everything, to understand why it is happening and where the money is going. But we didn’t get enough details, we just had to give a decision. It was far too quick for something so important and there was a lot of pressure.
“This was not fair, especially for the young guys, and I refused. I had a baby at home and have commitments to my family here, in Turkey and in Germany – to my charities, too, and also a new project we started to support people in London that was from the heart and not for publicity.
“People who know me know exactly how generous I am and, as far as I’m aware, I was not the only player who rejected the cut in the end, but only my name came out.
“I guess that’s because it is me and people have been trying for two years to destroy me, to make me unhappy, to push an agenda they hope will turn the supporters against me and paint a picture that is not true.
“Possibly the decision affected my chances on the pitch, I don’t know. But I’m not afraid to stand up for what I feel is right – and when you see what has happened now with the jobs, maybe I was.”
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