UEFA has rejected Thomas Tuchel's criticism of a decision to make Dortmund play just a day after their team bus was attacked. But Tuchel has had plenty of support from his counterparts within the coaching fraternity.
Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel used the press conference following his team's 3-2 defeat at home to Monaco on Wednesday to slam football's European governing body over the decision to make his team play the game so soon after the attack, in which defender Marc Bartra was seriously injured. Tuchel announced on Thursday that the Spanish defender could return to action in four weeks.
"We were informed by text message that UEFA had made this decision," Tuchel said on Wednesday. "The date was imposed upon us. There was a feeling of helplessness. What we think didn't interest anybody. We weren't asked about playing the game."
On Thursday, though, UEFA responded to Tuchel's criticism.
"The decision that the match should be played on Wednesday was made in consultation with all of those involved. We were also in contact with those involved on Wednesday, and at no point did we receive any indication that the match should not go ahead," the German sports news agency SID cited a UEFA statement as saying.
UEFA's decision to reschedule the match for less than 24 hours after Tuesday's attack, in which Dortmund's team bus was hit by three explosions while on the way to the stadium, has sparked a debate about whether it was the right thing to do.
Support from within the coaching fraternity
Several of Tuchel's coaching counterparts, including the coach of Dortmund's next opponent in the Bundesliga, Niko Kovac, expressed support for his position, when speaking to reporters about their upcoming matches.
"We can't even imagine what happened there, we can only try to. I would think that it was very, very difficult for them to play yesterday evening," the Eintracht Frankfurt boss said, before adding that he saw no real reason that the match couldn't have been rescheduled for a later date.
At his prematch press conference, Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann agreed that it would have been "simply impossible to play a normal football match under such circumstances." He also acknowledged the "immense economic interests" that surround a Champions League match. At the same time though, he said argued that in a situation like this one, such economic interests should take a back seat and a game should be rescheduled.
"So what if they wind up playing at 9:00 a.m. and the spectators can't make it? Then they just can't make it. And this time, the game won't be on live television."
Former Dortmund and current Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp came down squarely on Tuchel's side of the debate.
"I am pretty sure that if any of the people that made that decision had been sitting on the bus, that match would not have been played," Klopp said.
However, this support was not universal. Freiburg's coach, Christian Streich, came down on the other side of the debate, arguing that playing the match was part of a cause that was larger than reaching the semifinals.
"Sporting success can be made a secondary priority when it comes to sending a signal to those who would blow up human beings," Streich told reporters in Freiburg.
Still sinking in
In Dortmund, meanwhile, Tuchel indicated that the shock of what he and the team had experienced was still sinking in.
"It comes in waves. Today feels the worst," Tuchel said Thursday. "We have to find a way to deal with it. But we don't know yet how that's supposed to happen."
Some of his players, such as midfielder Nuri Sahin, echoed that sentiment.
"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 and my wife and my son were waiting in front of the door, there I felt how lucky we were," Sahin told former Norway international Jan Aage Fjortoft, who now works as a journalist.
pfd/mp (dpa, SID, AP)