Real Madrid CF midfielder Toni Kroos says that he had been the victim of abuse when people started calling him a "Nazi" after he reacted to former German international Mesut Ozil's retirement announcement from the national team.

Both men played for Germany on the international stage and for Real Madrid on the club level. Ozil has since moved on to other clubs and has retired from international duty. When he announced his retirement, he spoke about the "racism and disrespect" that he claims to have experienced within the national team. He cited these as some of the reasons behind his decision to step away.

Kroos felt the need to speak up at the time in defence of the German FA and the other players. "After the 2018 World Cup I said that I didn't like the way in which Mesut Ozil [handled himself as he retired from international football], and then [because of that] I was a Nazi for quite a lot of people," said Kroos, as quoted by Marca.

The incident was brought up during an event that had a discussion about cyber-bullying, with German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier also in attendance.

Kroos also said that his blonde hair and blue eyes made him a target for people who wanted to stereotype him as a Nazi. However, he managed to look past the criticism and move forward. "I managed to get over it. Anyone can hide behind a fake profile and then insult other people with almost no problem."

Nevertheless, he explained that the problem of cyber-bullying still exists and some people really take it to very extreme levels. In the English Premier League, the problem has become such a big issue that the matter reaches headlines almost every week.

The problem exists worldwide despite massive campaigns calling for respect. Numerous organisations have also been calling on social media giants like Facebook, Twiiter and Instagram, in a bid to pressure them to take more decisive action against cyber bullies.

The German president says that legislation needs to be made in order to help prevent the proliferation of online abuse.

Toni Kroos
Kroos is a staple of Zinedine Zidane's first team. Getty Images