DORTMUND, Germany, Apr 13 – Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel accused UEFA of treating the bomb attack on their team bus as if only a “beer can” had been thrown and claimed they were only 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.
The fixture was postponed from Tuesday after three explosions rocked the Dortmund team coach and left Spain international Marc Bartra needing surgery on a broken wrist.
Teenager Kylian Mbappe struck twice as Monaco claimed victory at Signal Iduna Park, with Tuchel furious at UEFA’s handling of the situation.
“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.”
“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.”
– ‘treated like animals’ –
Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos also felt the feelings of the players were ignored.
“We aren’t animals, we’re humans, who have family and children at home,” said the Greece international.
“I feel (treated) like an animal, not a human.
“Unless you experienced it, you can’t understand how bad it was for us.
“I am just happy to be alive, it was the worst day of my life,” he added, referring to the night of the attack.
UEFA, however, insisted that both clubs had agreed to play on Wednesday at the earlier 1645GMT kick-off.
“We were in touch with all parties and never received any information which suggested that any of the teams did not want to play,” said a UEFA spokesman.
Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere had said it was important for the match to go ahead: “we can not make the mistake of being intimidated. Then the terrorists have already won.”
But Sky pundit and ex-Germany international Lothar Matthaeus criticised UEFA, saying it was a mistake to play the game so soon after the attack.
“From what I heard in the team circle, a lot of players didn’t want to play, but UEFA put some pressure on and politicians asked Dortmund to play,” said Matthaeus.
“For me, it is irresponsible that the players had to run out.
“It’s an incomprehensible decision from UEFA to put Dortmund under pressure.
“In this case, the players must come first.”
The Dortmund players clearly struggled on the pitch with Monaco now favourites to reach the last four.
After the final whistle, several Dortmund stars were still shell-shocked by the attack 24 hours before.
– ‘no one wanted to play’ –
“I’m doing better now, it (the game) was good as a distraction,” said 23-year-old Germany international Matthias Ginter in barely more than a whisper.
“Apparently there was no other possibility, but from our side, no one wanted to play.
“Of course, no one was thinking about football before the game and I believe that was obvious from the way it began.
“We were lucky, when you hear how bad it could have been.”
Captain Marcel Schmelzer said the “players had to function like puppets” and midfielder Nuri Sahin said it was wrong to use football as a sign against terrorism.
“To use football as a sign is a long way from my comprehension,” said the Turkey international.
“The faces from the bus, at that moment (of the attack), will stay with me for the rest of my life.
“It was terrible.”
“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.”
– barely slept –
Many of the Dortmund team looked physically drained after the match and several confessed they had barely slept.
“We did not want to play this game, not less than 24 hours after an attack,” said Swiss goalkeeper Roman Burki.
“I did not have an hour of sleep at night, which is not the optimal preparation for such a game.”
Dortmund now have a week to regroup before the return leg in Monaco next Wednesday.