Dortmund team treated as if 'beer can' thrown at bus, rages coach

AFP/DPA/The Local
AFP/DPA/The Local - [email protected] • 13 Apr, 2017 Updated Thu 13 Apr 2017 11:00 CEST
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Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel accused UEFA of treating the bomb attack on their team bus as if a "beer can" had been thrown and claimed they were informed by text message that they would have to play their Champions League game against Monaco.


The German side were defeated 3-2 by the French club in the first leg of the quarter-final on Wednesday, 24 hours after the scheduled game had been postponed.

Teenager Kylian Mbappe struck twice as Monaco claimed victory at Signal Iduna Park, but Tuchel was furious at the way the incident was handled by UEFA.

The fixture was postponed from Tuesday after three explosions rocked the Dortmund team coach and left Spain international Marc Bartra with a broken wrist.

"We felt completely passed over, it came down to 'tomorrow, you're playing'," said Tuchel.

"We were told by text message. They treated it as if a beer can had been thrown at the bus.

"Ultimately, it was decided in Nyon in Switzerland whether or not to play the next day. It was a somewhat powerless feeling. Each player had the right to start with a somewhat queasy feeling."

Police ramped up security in the city as German investigators detained an Islamist suspect following the roadside blast.

"We would have liked to have had more time to work through it," added Tuchel.

"There are players who easily brushed it off, but there are also players who really took it to heart. They are more thoughtful."

UEFA, however, insisted that both clubs had agreed to play on Wednesday at the earlier kick-off.

"We were in touch with all parties today and never received any information which suggested that any of the teams did not want to play," said a UEFA spokesman.

Dortmund stars Nuri Sahin and Julian Weigl lauded the courage of their team-mates.

"We knew that it would not be easy to focus on football. Until kick-off, everything was all still in my head, but not football," said Turkey international midfielder Sahin.

"It was only when I came home yesterday and my wife and my son were standing at the door that I realised how lucky we were.

"I know that the football is very important, that it is about a lot and I knew we have to deliver here.

"We also know that we had to compete here. But one shouldn't forget that we are human beings. That was not nice today (Wednesday)."

Germany midfielder Weigl conceded the atmosphere had been particularly tense but understood the decision to go ahead with the game.

"Most of the guys slept as little as I did," said Weigl. "There is no golden way to deal with this because it was the first time for everyone.

"There was no other possibility (to play the game later). It was difficult for us, of course."

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who attended Dortmund's match, said the "fascination" surrounding football drove terrorists to try to disrupt it.

"That's why it's right that we do as much as we can to protect it, and not allow criminals to take the fascination away from us."

But former German international Lothar Matthaeus said it was "irresponsible" to get the players to go through with the game so soon after the attack.

"From what I heard from team sources, many players didn't want to play today. But UEFA put on pressure and politicians urged Borussia Dortmund to counter terror," he told Sky news channel, referring to the European football federation.

Investigation into motive continues

Investigators had on Wednesday focused their probe into explosions on a sole "Islamist" suspect in custody. However they said on Thursday that they had no evidence that the suspect was involved in the attack, and instead applied for an arrest warrant for him due to their suspicion that he is an Isis member.

Officials have also stressed that they have not yet ruled out other motives entirely, including violent soccer fans or extortionists.

The roadside blasts left Bartra and a policeman injured, with the bombs "containing metal pieces" detonating minutes after the team bus set off to a planned Champions League game against Monaco on Tuesday night. 

Investigators were chasing a suspected "terrorist link" to the blasts, after three identical letters were found at the scene.

"An Islamist background appears to be possible," federal prosecutor's office spokeswoman Frauke Köhler said on Wednesday, noting the letter demanded that Germany withdraw its deployment of Tornado reconnaissance missions in the anti-Isis international coalition and close the US air base in the western German town of Ramstein.

The investigation had focused on two suspects "from the Islamist spectrum" she said, adding that both their homes had been raided and one man was detained.

'Repugnant act'

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday she was "horrified" by the "repugnant act", which Dortmund city's police chief Gregor Lange described as a "targeted attack" against the team, also known as BVB.

Germany has been on high alert since a series of jihadist attacks last year, including a Christmas market assault in Berlin.

Tuesday's explosives detonated minutes after the Dortmund team bus pulled away from the squad's hotel.

Bartra underwent surgery on a broken wrist after he was hit by flying glass, Dortmund president Reinhard Rauball said.

A policeman, who was on a motorcycle escorting the team bus, suffered trauma from the noise of the blasts, which shattered the bus windows.

"The bus turned on to the main road, when there was a huge noise -- a big explosion," Dortmund's Swiss goalkeeper Roman Burki told Swiss media.

"After the bang, we all crouched down in the bus. We did not know if more would come." Some players hurled themselves to the ground, he said.

As the squad geared up for kick-off Wednesday, Dortmund's chief executive Hans-Joachim Watze vowed that his side "will play not only for ourselves today. We will play for everyone... we want to show that terror and hate can never determine our actions".

Before the match began, fans chanted "Bartra! Bartra!", in support for the defender who was hurt.



AFP/DPA/The Local 2017/04/13 11:00

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