Talking Soccer: Bombing causes injury, scheduling conflicts

Dortmund's Marco Reus, Nuri Sahin, right, and other players hold up the jersey of teammate Marc Bartra after the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt in Dortmund, Germany,Saturday, April 15, 2017. Marc Bartra was heavily injured after the bomb attack on Dortmund's team bus on the April 11, 2017. (Ina Fassbender/dpa via AP)

The Champions’ League is a competition which has carved itself out to be the premier championship for the top teams in Europe, and although it stands above the domestic tables for many teams, it has recently been the source of a moral and scheduling controversy. Borussia Dortmund recently found themselves having to choose between withdrawing from playing their first-leg against AC Monaco a single day after their bus was endangered in a bombing incident or withdrawing from the fixture.

On April 11, 2017, the bus driving the players on Borussia Dortmund (BVB) to their fixture was attacked by roadside bombs, which injured a policeman as well as defender Marc Bartra. Following the tragic events, UEFA immediately took steps to determine whether the Champions’ League game would take place the next day or be postponed. However, due to a crowded schedule for both teams including a fierce title race for Monaco, it was decided the teams would play the next day following, despite the horrible events that happened to BVB.

Both players and management, including Dortmund head coach Thomas Tuchel, criticized UEFA, stating they were forced by the governing body to play the game or forfeit the fixture even after the events that occurred. While this has caused dismay by fans of the sport abroad, new information has come out showing that the blame may not lie solely in the hands of UEFA.

According to German newspaper Welt and French newspaper L’equipe, BVB management did attempt to reschedule the game to next week. Despite the attempt, both teams are in their domestic league cups on this upcoming Wednesday, and due to the busy schedule and a title race, AC Monaco did not agree to move the game.

Police guard at the entrance of the Dortmund stadium prior to the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt, in Dortmund, Saturday, April 15, 2017. Defender Marc Bartra and a police officer were wounded when three explosions hit the team bus as it was leaving for the stadium ahead of the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal against Monaco Tuesday, April 11, 2017. (Ian Fassbender/dpa via AP)

While UEFA has a history of shady business dealings and other questionable management practices, the blame being thrown solely at them is misguided. While Borussia Dortmund was forced into a tough spot as far as choosing to move the fixture or not, they were informed about the decision, meaning the real target should be the upper level management of the club.

While it could be argued such an event is abnormal and a difficult decision for a club to make, their blame is further amplified by the fact the players of the club had no choice in the rescheduling. A bombing directed at your team bus is traumatic experience, and the fact that a member of the team was injured means that the players should have had direct input in the aftermath of the incident.

“We have learned from a professional side, a period of two to three days is needed to allow you to stabilize yourself emotionally after such an experience,” Tuchel said to Welt about the emotional problems that could affect the team. “In this situation, the team needed that far more than tactical advice.”

Although the Dortmund side went on to lose 3-2 in their home match, this could provide a catalyst they may need to push for an away win and advance deeper into the competition. Despite the chance of this happening, both clubs, as well as UEFA, need to look further into their policies regarding emergency events like this and how they go about dealing with rescheduling in these cases.


Joe Burns is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joseph.burns@uconn.edu.