This isn’t an attempt to make excuses for a loss. Dortmund could have played better in the first leg against Monaco. That being said, the fact that there was a match at all is simply inexcusable. It demonstrates a total lack of empathy, on the part of UEFA, for the fans and the players.
Whoever made this decision should be ashamed.
Let’s just re-state what happened for a moment: these players, who have to this point been living peacefully, were riding their bus when someone tried to kill them. They were targets of a bombing. There were nails lodged in headrests on the Dortmund bus. This was a close call.
They were probably unsure of what was happening at first. There were three explosions, a window broke. They were probably shouting, wondering if there would be more. Their teammate, Marc Bartra, was rushed to the hospital. That doesn’t happen every day.
It is well documented that when humans undergo a traumatic event, they can face psychosomatic stress: emotional stress that results in physical symptoms. These symptoms can be anything from anxiety, to nausea, to fatigue. The psychological damage caused by something like, I don’t know... an attempted terror attack... can cause wounds that are physical and mental, that take a while to heal.
Just listen to Nuri Sahin speak about the last 24 hours:
Nuri Sahin (@nurisahin): – It's hard to find the right words.@JanAageFjortoft pic.twitter.com/KTMPF3PTNI— Viasat Fotball (@ViasatFotball) April 12, 2017
Listen to his words, but also to the way he speaks. It’s clear that what happened yesterday seriously affected him. Anybody who has had family or friends be in serious peril knows exactly how jarring it can be.
Now: imagine that stress, and then imagine having to play Champions League-level football under such conditions. In order to compete at this level, total focus is required. As Sahin explained above, the players were nowhere near that level of focus.
Until I was on the pitch in the second half, I didn’t think about football to be honest, because last night I didn’t realize what happened, and when I was at home with my wife and my son, we were waiting in front of the door and, there I felt how lucky we were.
He’s talking about how lucky he was just to be alive. He relates how he will never forget the faces of the players on the bus, about how they were all incredibly lucky that nobody died. It’s a moment that he says will haunt him forever.
Sokratis said similar things. He felt the need just to remind everyone that the players are still human beings.
Sokratis via @RNBVB: "We are not animals, we are people, we have families, little children at home."— Alex Chaffer (@AlexChaffer) April 12, 2017
Regardless, UEFA made them play.
Not only did they postpone the match only a day, but it was actually less than 24 hours after the incident. I’m not sure why UEFA felt the need to move it forward to 18:45 local time, other than they didn’t want it to air at the same time as the other two matches of the day. If this is the case, then it makes it even worse, because it meant they actively capitalized on a terrorist attack to earn more viewers.
And according to Thomas Tuchel, they didn’t even consult with BVB about the decision. They made the decision, and informed the club of what the decision was, with no input from those who would actually be involved.
Yesterday’s match should have been postponed until next week at minimum. I understand it makes scheduling difficult, but frankly I don’t really care. I doubt Monaco would have either. These players are human beings, and they deserve to be treated as such.
Despite all this, I think we should give full credit to the players of Borussia Dortmund. Given the circumstances, this must have been one of the most difficult matches of their careers. From what I could tell, they gave everything that they had, and managed to claw back a couple goals to keep the tie alive.
Hopefully they’ll be more rejuvenated come next week so that they can carry on to the semis.