Mesut Özil (L) presented President Erdogan with his Arsenal shirt. EPA

The German Football Federation (DFB) has criticised its internationals Mesut Özil and Ilkay Gündogan for posing in photos with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The two German-born players, both of Turkish origin, gave Erdogan signed shirts at an event in London on Sunday.

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Gündogan wrote: “For my honoured President, with great respect.” Erdogan is campaigning for re-election.

Özil plays for Arsenal and Gündogan for Manchester City.

Both players are preparing for next month’s Fifa World Cup in Russia, in which Germany is among the favourites. Turkey did not qualify.

Many German politicians have also criticised the footballers, questioning their loyalty to German democratic values.

DFB president Reinhard Grindel said: “Football and the DFB defend values which are not sufficiently respected by Erdogan.

“That’s why it’s not good that our international players let themselves be manipulated for his electoral campaign. In doing that, our players have certainly not helped the DFB’s work on integration.”

DFB director Oliver Bierhoff said: “Neither one of them was aware of the symbolic value of this photo, but it’s clearly not right and we’ll be talking to them about it”.

In his youth, before entering politics in the 1990s, Erdogan played football semi-professionally for an Istanbul team, Kasimpasa.