Borussia Dortmund’s team bus was struck by a roadside explosion as it made its way to the Signal Iduna Park for the Champions League quarter-final fixture with AS Monaco, resulting in the tie being postponed.
Three bombs containing metal pieces were detonated just minutes after the bus left the hotel where the team had been completing their pre-match preparations. The blast caused severe damage to the vehicle and resulted in Dortmund defender Marc Barta having to receive hospital treatment.
So far German prosecutors have been unable to identify those responsible for the attack, with three identical letters left close to the site thought to be the first clue to the motives behind the assault.
Initial reports suggested Islamist extremists were behind the attack, with the letters citing German involvement in the fight against Islamic State in Syria as the motive.
“Dortmund is known to suffer from a far-right scene, investigations have to be pursued in that direction” – sebastian fiedler
“We found several letters of responsibility,, ” said a spokeswoman for the German federal prosecutor’s office.
“It appears that an Islamist motive is indeed possible. Among other things they demand the withdrawal of German tornado fighters from Syria.”
However, the authenticity of those has been called in to question and a 26-year-old Iraqi said to have links to Islamic state was cleared of any involvement after his arrest.
And now, a letter from German far-right groups to newspaper Taggespiegel has claimed responsibility, hitting out at multi-culturalism and threatening further attacks.
“Dortmund is known to suffer from a far-Right scene, so investigations have to be pursued in that direction as well”, said Sebastian Fiedler of the German police union.
The contents of the bomb caused damage to the buses strengthened glass windows, causing shards of metal to become embedded in headrests within the bus. Spanish defender Marc Bartra and a police officer were the only two people to suffer physical injuries, with Bartra requiring surgery on his wrist.
“With the pain, panic and uncertainty of not knowing what was going on or how long it would last, it was the longest 15 minutes of my life”, claimed Bartra via social media.
“The only thing I ask is for everyone to live in peace”.
German chancellor Angela Merkel paid tribute to the fans of both teams for a “wonderful show of solidarity” which she described as a “clear signal against every kind of violence.”
24 hours later, Monaco won the rearranged game 3-2, with highly rated teenager Kylian Mbappe on target twice.
“We wished we would have more time to deal with what happened”- thomas tuchel
Brazilian midfielder Fabinho had already spurned a glorious chance to give the visitors the lead, firing a penalty wide after Sokratis had pulled down Mbap before the teenager converted Thomas Lemar’s driven cross from close range with Dortmund appealing in vain for offside.
Sven Bender, who replaced the injured Barta in Dortmund’s defence, headed past his own goalkeeper to double Monaco’s lead before half-time.
Ousmane Dembele halved the deficit 12 minutes after the break before Mbappe struck again for Monaco. Shinji Kagawa’s late goal made it 3-2 and gave Dortmund hope in the tie.
“We wished we would have more time to deal with what happened but someone in Switzerland [home to European football governing body UEFA] decided we must play”, said Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel.
“We were told by text message that UEFA was making this decision. It is a very bad feeling. Of course, we have to keep it going but we still want to be competitive.
“We do not want to use the situation as an excuse. The players had the choice not to play but no-one chose this option.”
—Alistair Sargent, Correspondent (Sport)