Former German international football Mesut Ozil was married in Istanbul on Friday with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the marriage witnesses at the wedding ceremony, Trend reported citing Daily Sabah.
Ozil, 30, who is of Turkish origin, sparked controversy last year when he was photographed with Erdogan, raising questions about the footballer's loyalty to Germany on the eve of their disastrous 2018 World Cup campaign.
The Turkish leader arrived in the early evening for Friday's ceremony at a luxury hotel on the banks of the Bosporus to see the Arsenal midfielder marry his fiancee, former Miss Turkey Amine Gulshe.
A smiling Erdogan and his wife Emine were seen standing next to the young couple as their marriage was formalized.
The ceremony was held at the Four Seasons hotel, a restored 19th-century Ottoman palace, by the Bosporus Strait, known for its terraces above the water, separates the European and Asian sides of Turkey's most populous city.
Ahead of the wedding, Ozil asked fans wishing to give gifts to donate to a charity that pays for operations for poor children. The couple also made a hefty donation to the Turkish Red Crescent (Kizilay) to be spent on war victims and refugees. The aid organization used the donation to provide dinner to some 15,000 Syrian refugees and Bayirbujak Turkmen from northern Syria.
After 92 appearances for Germany, including a key role in the 2014 World Cup victory, Ozil quit the national squad last July, following a wave of xenophobic and racist attacks against him before, during and after German national team's collapse at the 2018 World Cup.
Ozil announced in March that he had asked Erdogan to be his witness.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff Helge Braun was part of a chorus of criticism of the invitation.
Braun told the Bild newspaper then that it "makes one sad" that Ozil would make a such a move despite having already been sharply criticized by the German public over his first meeting with Erdogan.
Ozil has dated Gulshe since 2017 and the couple announced their engagement in June 2018.
The footballer, a third-generation German, whipped up a political storm, including racist abuse, when he was pictured alongside Erdogan last May.
Criticism intensified after the red-faced defending champions crashed out of the first round of the World Cup in Russia.
In the wake of the World Cup fiasco, Ozil announced his resignation from the national squad, saying: "I am German when we win, an immigrant when we lose."
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