Opinion: A loss that wasn′t a defeat | Champions League | DW | 13.04.2017
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Champions League

Opinion: A loss that wasn't a defeat

Monaco beat Dortmund in a match that was played in extenuating circumstances. While Monaco won the match in sporting terms, BVB and their fans also emerged as winners, writes DW's Joscha Weber.

Thomas Tuchel gestured, complained and appeared to be driven to despair. This was a man who was visibily suffering along with his team. The coach of BVB sat in the dugout, stood, sat back down and grimaced painfully as his team struggled to a 3-2 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal against AS Monaco.

The emotions displayed on Tuchel's face were worth observing because they were an indication that, despite all that had gone on in the previous 24 hours, this was a football match. They were feelings that were shared by thousands in Dortmund's stadium on this unusual evening. And they expressed the collective message that we will not be intimidated.

The "we" referred to is our liberal, democratic society. Football is a national sport, not just in Germany but in many other countries too. The game is a part of our culture and our identity and in these modern times, our enthusiasm for our favorite sport allows is a big part of how we relax after a hard day at work.

Weber Joscha Kommentarbild App

DW Sports editor Joscha Weber

However, this doesn't apply everyone, and plenty of people are not "with us." It is still not completely clear, although it is gradually becoming clearer, who the perpetrator was. Federal prosecutors are working on the assumption that this was an act of terror, and by announcing that "two suspects from the Islamist milieu" have been arrested in connection with Tuesday's attack on the Dortmund team bus, they have raised the possibility that Islamists were behind the attack. Members of this milieu have -  through threats and claiming responsibility for attacks - have repeatedly made recreational activities and sporting events the targets of their terror. This is a perfidious strategy, because for them, these "soft targets" are A: symbols of Western democracy, (which they hate), B: extremely difficult to protect from attack, and C: very sexy targets in terms of generating media attention.

First mortal fear, then a peak performance? Impossible

This is precisely why these events are particularly deserving of protection. A large, and unfortunately necessary, police presence has been the norm at sports stadiums for quite a while now. Maybe that's why the attack on the BVB bus was carried out 10 kilometers (six miles) away from the stadium.

Nevertheless, the Dortmund players were on the field less than 24 hours later. This is absurd, no matter how much these footballing millionaires earn these days. UEFA's decision to go ahead with the game less than 24 hours later, without consulting the shocked Dortmund players, lacked all human empathy. After the match, Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos spoke of the fear for his life that he felt on the bus. He also cried in front of the Südtribüne - the storied south stand of Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park. To expect somebody to be able to completely focus on their job in such a short time after an attack is unreasonable.

Nevertheless, the Dortmund players did their level best, and for this, they deserve the greatest deal of respect. It has been reported that some of the players actually didn't want to play, but they did so anyway - due to their professionalism, out of respect for their own fans - and because of their commitment to the cause of football, standing up against terror.

Therefore, a 3-2 loss in their own stadium was no defeat, even if the three goals that Dortmund conceded is a significant deficit going into the second leg. In truth, this was a victory, because Borussia Dortmund sent the clear message that the fear will not be allowed to win.

"We did the best we could," Tuchel said after it was all over. "The team showed bravery and courage."

That says it all.

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