Borussia Dortmund’s CEO admits his relationship with coach Thomas Tuchel is strained over the decision to play their Champions League quarter-final a day after a bomb attack on their team bus.
The squad was left shaken and defender Marc Barta needed a wrist operation after three bomb blasts hit the Dortmund bus on the way to their first leg at home to Monaco on April 11.
UEFA, in agreement with the two clubs, postponed the game to the day after and Dortmund lost 3-2, eventually bowing out 6-3 on aggregate. After the defeat Tuchel complained that he had not been involved in the decision “at all” while many players said they had not wanted to play barely 24 hours after the attack.
Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke told Funke Media Group on Saturday that nobody in the Dortmund squad had made it clear that they did not want to play. Asked if there was a clear difference in his and Tuchel’s version of events, Watzke said: “Yes, there is.
It was too serious a matter for us to make a decision above the heads of everyone. “It wasn’t for nothing in the discussions on Wednesday morning (the day of the rescheduled game) that I made it clear that every player who didn’t feel in a position to play had until the afternoon to say so.
“The coach obviously also had the right to point that out, but I was never confronted with such a scenario.” Watzke said he was irritated when some players later complained that they had been made to play. Defender Sokratis said he had been made to feel “like an animal, not a human being”.
“I would take with a pinch of salt the words of players who were in the middle of such a pressure situation and who were physically and mentally completely exhausted after the game,” said Watzke.
Asked about Watzke’s latest comments Tuchel, who has one year left on his contract, declined to comment before Saturday’s home match against Hoffenheim in a key battle for an automatic Champions League place.
“I do not want to go into that or think about it at this point. We can’t allow ourselves to be distracted in this phase of the season,” Tuchel told Sky.
“It’s just about reaching our sporting goals. Something like this shouldn’t be a subject and that goes for the next game too.”