Ahead of their UEFA Champions League first-leg home match against AS Monaco, German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund’s team bus witnessed three explosions which caused damages to the window panes of the bus and seriously injured their Spanish defender Marc Bartra.
“We are assuming that they were a targeted attack against the Dortmund team,” said the western German city’s police chief Gregor Lange, adding however that it did not amount to an organised terror assault.
Local prosecutors also revealed that a letter has been found close to the site of the blasts, which struck shortly after the team bus drove off from the squad’s hotel, while a four device did not explode.
Dortmund Police said that they were working on the assumption that the blasts were caused by a “serious explosive devices,” which may have been hidden in a hedge near a car park of the team hotel. The police didn’t elaborate on the possible nature of the devices or say who might have planted them as tonight’s match was subsequently called off and rescheduled for Wednesday.
The police confirmed that there were three explosions near the Dortmund team bus as they left their hotel on the outskirts of the western German city of Dortmund for their Signal Iduna Park stadium, around 10 kilometres away, at around 19.00h CET local time.
Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Bürki said the team bus had just pulled out of the hotel driveway when an explosion — a “huge bang” — happened and sent glass flying. The Switzerland international told Swiss daily Blick that he was sitting in the last row of the bus, next to Bartra.
Bartra was hit by shards from the broken back window, he added. Players ducked for cover, wondering whether there would be more explosions.
“We’re all shocked — nobody thought about a football match in the minutes after that,” he said.
Inside the packed stadium, supporters of French Ligue 1 side AS Monaco chanted “Dortmund, Dortmund” in sympathy for the German side. Dortmund residents, for their part, used social media to offer accommodation to stranded Monaco supporters ahead of their rescheduled match.
Borussia Dortmund’s president Reinhard Rauball said he believed the team would be ready for Wednesday’s game. “The players will be able to push this out of their minds and be in a position to put in their usual performances.”
“The worst thing would be if whoever committed this attack was now able to get to affect them through it.”
The postponement of the match happened at 20.30h CET with the game rescheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, April 12 at 18:45h CET.
Dortmund further informed that for all ticket holders the tickets will remain valid for the rescheduled fixture.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said, “I was deeply disturbed by the explosions which occurred tonight in Dortmund. The decision taken to postpone the UEFA Champions League match between Borussia Dortmund and AS Monaco was the correct one since we must always prioritise the safety and security of all fans, team officials and players.”
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the representatives of the two clubs, the local authorities, and the supporters for their cooperation on the ground,” Ceferin added.