Saturday 16 December 2017

Player injured after explosions near Dortmund team bus prior to match

Dortmund’s damaged team bus after the explosions. Photo: AP
Dortmund’s damaged team bus after the explosions. Photo: AP
Dortmund’s Marcel Schmelzer talks to police officers

Dean Grey, Dortmund

A Dortmund footballer was hurt after three explosions near the Dortmund team bus as it left a hotel on the outskirts of the western city yesterday.

The bus was headed for the club's stadium, around six miles away, at around 7pm local time (6pm BST). A window on the bus was damaged and Spanish defender Marc Bartra was hurt.

Dortmund said Bartra has been taken to hospital, although the club's chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said the defender's injuries are "nothing life-threatening".

Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Buerki said the team bus had just pulled out of the hotel driveway when an explosion sent glass flying.

The Swiss international told reporters he was sitting in the last row of the bus, next to Bartra, who he said was hit by shards from the broken back window. Players ducked for cover, wondering whether there would be more explosions.

"We're all shocked - nobody thought about a football match after that," he said.

Inside the packed stadium, supporters of Monaco, who play in the French league, chanted "Dortmund, Dortmund" in sympathy for the German side.

Dortmund residents used social media to offer accommodation to stranded Monaco fans ahead of their rescheduled match in Europe's premier soccer club competition.

"The team is totally shocked, that's clear. It's our task now to digest this somehow because it's only 24 hours before we have to play. That's our job," Mr Watzke said.

He added that there was "no alternative" to rescheduling the match for Wednesday, as Monaco also have to play at the weekend and the return Champions League match is scheduled for next week.

"It's a very unfortunate situation but there was no other way," he said.

Stadium spokesman Norbert Dickel informed fans of the cancellation, saying "there is no reason for panic here at the stadium". Dortmund recommended that fans stay in the stadium and remain calm to facilitate an "orderly departure".

Police said "nearly all" people in the stadium had left, with no problems.

German justice minister Heiko Maas wrote on Twitter: "Shocking news. Our thoughts are with (Borussia Dortmund). You'll never walk alone!"

Germany has seen matches postponed over security concerns before.

In Hannover, in November 2015, Germany's international friendly against the Netherlands was cancelled just before kick-off after police feared an explosive device might be detonated at the stadium.

This came days after devices were detonated outside the Stade de France in Paris as France were playing Germany - part of a co-ordinated attack on the French capital.

Irish Independent

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