‘I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose’. With this powerful statement Mesut Özil resigned from Germany’s national football team. His resignation act not only highlights growing controversies and uneasiness around the representation of the football nation by players with migration backgrounds, but also marks the fragility of national belonging. In this article, we deconstruct in detail Özil’s powerful resignation elaborating upon Norbert Elias and John Scotson’s (1994 (1965)) ‘established–outsider model’. With this, we will analyse the power dynamics underlying the processes of national belonging. Moreover, we extend the established-outsider approach by using the fluid and contextual borders between formal and moral deservedness of citizenship. In our conclusion, we revisit Özil’s statement and recapitulate our theoretical explanations on the sensitivities of this case as well on how to navigate a way out of the contested competition between nationalities in the context of international football.
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© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.