Uefa has responded to criticism for the rescheduling of Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League match against Monaco by insisting that it did not receive any information prior to the fixture that the German side did not want to play.
Three explosions went off near the bus carrying Dortmund’s team to its scheduled game against Monaco on Tuesday night, which left Dortmund defender Marc Bartra hospitalised.
In the wake of the incident, Uefa decided to postpone the fixture until the following night. However after the match the Dortmund coach, Thomas Tuchel, described that decision as “absurd” and complained that his side felt “completely ignored” over the rescheduling.
Borussia Dortmund bus explosion
Dortmund players Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Nuri Sahin also gave emotional post-match interviewers during which they questioned whether it had been appropriate to play the match so soon after an attack on their lives.
In the wake of mounting criticism, Uefa issued a statement in which they claimed the rescheduled fixture went ahead “in cooperation and complete agreement” with the two clubs.
“The decision to play the Uefa Champions League match between Borussia Dortmund and AS Monaco FC on Wednesday at 18.45CET was made on Tuesday night at the BvB Stadion Dortmund in cooperation and complete agreement with clubs and authorities,” Uefa said.
“Uefa was in touch with all parties on Wednesday and never received any information which suggested that any of the teams did not want to play.”
Tuchel was not happy with the rescheduling ()
Tuchel hit out at Uefa following the match for disregarding the feelings of his shaken players by staging the match – arguably the biggest of Dortmund’s season – less than 24 hours after the bomb attack.
“We were informed by text message that Uefa was making this decision,” he told a news conference.
“A decision made in Switzerland that concerns us directly. We will not forget it. It is a very bad feeling.
“A few minutes after this attack, the only question that was asked was, ‘Are you ready to play?’. As if we had had a beer can thrown at our coach.
“At that time, we did not know the reasons for this attack. There is a feeling of helplessness. The date was imposed on us. What we think has not interested anyone. We weren’t asked about playing the game.
“We were attacked as men and we tried to solve the problem on the ground.
“Everyone has their own way of reacting to events. The players had the choice not to play, but no-one chose this option.”
Borussia Dortmund bus blasts injure player Marc Bartra
Defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, though, said he felt the players had been treated like “animals” by the decision to stage the game so soon after the attack.
“They (Uefa) have to understand that we are not animals,” he told ESPN FC.
“We are people who have families, who have kids in the house. And we are not animals. I am happy that all the players are alive, and all the staff are alive.”
Papastathopoulos was not happy with the decision to play ()
Questions were of course asked head of the match over how Dortmund could possibly be in the right frame of mind to take the field so soon after the incident.
And in the first half it appeared they were not as Monaco surged into a two-goal lead through Kylian Mbappe’s opener and a Sven Bender own goal.
The second half was a different story as Ousmane Dembele and Shinji Kagawa scored either side of Mbappe’s second to give the German side hope for the return leg.
Dortmund fans show their support for Marc Bartra ()
Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin admitted football was far from his mind.
He said on Scandinavian TV: “I don’t know if people can understand this, but until I was on the pitch in the second half I did not think about football to be honest.
“I know football is very important, we love football, we suffer with football and I know we earn a lot of money and have a privileged life but we are human beings. There is so much more than football in this world. (On Tuesday) night we felt it.
“When I was on the bus (on Tuesday) night, I can’t forget the faces. I will never forget those faces. It was unbelievable.”
Dortmund players warmed up in Marc Bartra t-shirts ()
Team-mate Julian Weigl added on the club website: “At the start of the match you could see the events were hanging over us.
“There were no other alternatives than to play. But it was really difficult for us. I think the majority of us didn’t get much sleep, myself included. I tried to come to terms with it with my family, tried to wind down and switch off. In the end we made the best we could of the match.”
Christian Pulisic and Julian Weigl applaud the fans ()
Monaco striker Radamel Falcao sympathised with the Dortmund players.
“The attacks may have affected the focus of the (Dortmund) players,” he was quoted as saying by L’Equipe.
“It is difficult for the Borussia players. A player is injured, but Uefa decided to play.”
Dortmund’s bus was attacked upon leaving their team hotel on Tuesday ()
A suspected Islamic extremist was arrested on Wednesday over the attack.
The German Federal Prosecutor’s Office said three similar letters claiming responsibility found near the site of the attack before the original postponed fixture on Tuesday night made an Islamic extremist motive possible.
It said that investigators had been focusing so far on two suspects from the “Islamic spectrum”, both of whose apartments have been searched. One has been arrested.
(Additional reporting by Press Association)