DORTMUND: German police are investigating a possible Islamic extremist link to the bombing of the Borussia Dortmund football team’s bus hours before the Champions League quarter-final against Monaco.
German media reports have claimed that a letter found near the scene references the Berlin Christmas market attack and military operations in Syria. Polcie described the attack as “deliberately targeted” but were still investigating whether the letter is genuine.
The explosive devices were hidden in a hedge near the bus. A search had been launched for a car with a foreign registration plate.
Spanish defender Marc Bartra underwent surgery after breaking a bone in his right wrist and suffering cuts to his lower arm from glass shards. No other players were hurt.
The tie between Dortmund and Monaco was postponed 15 minutes before the scheduled kickoff after three explosions close to the home club’s team bus at the players’ hotel shortly after 5pm CET.
The replayed match will kick off at 6.45pm CET (5.45 BST), thus starting ahead of the two scheduled ties in Madrid (Atletico v Leicester) and Munich where security will be stepped up for the visit of holders Real Madrid.
Dortmund’s Swiss goalkeeper Roman Buerki said the team bus had just pulled out of a hotel driveway at about 7:15p.m. when it was rocked by an explosion.
Buerki, who had been sitting in the last row of the bus next to Bartra. told Swiss media: “There was a huge bang, literally an explosion, that sent glass flying about.” He said players ducked for cover, wondering if there would be more explosions.
He added: “We’re all shocked. Nobody thought about a football match in the minutes after that.”
A witness who had just collected match tickets told local media “The BVB bus was still there and was waiting for [coach] Thomas Tuchel. Then the bus started to drive to the stadium. After a few moments a huge explosion happened. I was sitting in my car. The whole car was shaking.”
Monaco issued a supportive statement, saying: “Faced with this difficult situation, AS Monaco wishes to express its full support for the whole Borussia Dortmund team and club.”
Further statements came from football’s governing bodies.
European federation UEFA, confirming the rearrangement, said: “Following tonight’s incident involving the Borussia Dortmund team bus, the UEFA Champions League match between Borussia Dortmund and AS Monaco has been postponed until tomorrow 18.45 CET.
“This decision was made after a meeting held at the Westfalenstadion between UEFA, representatives of the two clubs and local authorities.”
President Aleksander Čeferin added: “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.”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino issued his own statement of concern on behalf of the world governing body, saying: “The thoughts of every one of us at FIFA are with the people of Dortmund, and the fans of both Borussia Dortmund and Monaco following today’s troubling events.
“We are closely monitoring the condition of BVB’s Marc Bartra, and wish him a speedy recovery from his injuries. FIFA condemn the incidents in Dortmund. We are all awaiting further details of the incident.”