Friday, April 20, 2018

How football must learn from the 24-hour farcical postponement of Dortmund vs Monaco

Ashley Randall in Editorial, UEFA Champions League 16 Apr 2017

Borussia Dortmund players after the Monaco match

Borussia Dortmund players after the Monaco match

Football had to make do with the back-seat on Tuesday evening as the Borussia Dortmund coach transporting players to their Champions League quarter-final match with AS Monaco was hit by three explosions.

Thankfully, there were no serious injuries, although Spanish defender Marc Bartra had to be taken to hospital for an operation on his broken hand.

The safety of staff involved in the explosions was number one priority for everybody who had heard about the attacks, and the game was rightly postponed.

However, Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel claimed UEFA decided, without the team’s consultation, that the game should take place just 24 hours later.

Subsequently, the German team succumbed to a 3-2 defeat to Monaco last night that perhaps signalled the end of their Champions League hopes.

Dortmund had fully deserved to be in the quarter-finals

Dortmund had finished above Real Madrid and top of Group F to get to the quarter-finals of this elite competition.

They were the tournament’s highest goalscorers, netting 21 times in 6 games, outscoring Europe veterans Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Arsenal.

No one will forget the record-breaking 8-4 hammering of Legia Warsaw that thrilled football fans all across the world.

How sad and barbaric then because of UEFA’s inconsiderate and thoughtless decision, Dortmund could be making an early undeserved exit from a competition they’ve so far lit up.

UEFA’s argument

UEFA have consistently claimed that the decision was made to reschedule the game after co-operation with both clubs.

“The decision to play the UEFA Champions League match between Borussia Dortmund and AS Monaco FC on Wednesday at 18.45CET was made on Tuesday night at the BvB Stadion Dortmund in cooperation and complete agreement with clubs and authorities,” UEFA’s statement said.

Tuchel told the Telegraph that he felt the decision was ‘absurd’ and complained he felt his side’s best interests were ‘completely ignored’ by UEFA.

The German manager claimed he was informed by text message that UEFA were expecting them to play as if they had had a beer can thrown at their coach.

Players were understandably still in a state of shock

The German team were still visibly feeling the effects of the previous 24 hours when they took to the pitch against Monaca last night.

By half-time they were 2-0 down, and it was evident they were struggling to focus on the task in hand.

It was absolutely ridiculous that from being in a potentially life-threatening incident on Tuesday, the players then had to divert all their attentions to the biggest game of their season.

UEFA not just to blame

However, the process set out in UEFA regulations state that clubs, police and security authorities have to agree to the rescheduling of a match at the earliest opportunity.

This wasn’t just UEFA’s fault.

In an already packed fixture calendar for most teams in Europe, there is pressure from television companies, sponsors and fans to get the game played as soon as possible.

It’s quite wrong that the players are actually bottom of the list when regarding important factors surrounding a football match.

These people were subject to probably the most frightening experience of their life, yet were expected to forget about it all in just 24 hours.

Undoubtedly, the whole squad who were subject to the terrible ordeal on Tuesday will still be struggling with the incident now and will probably need expert help in order to try and completely move on.

Football needs to learn from this incident

It’s a shame that Dortmund may exit the Champions League because of the lack of empathy from UEFA towards the team, but maybe lessons can be learned.

Maybe, first and foremost, the players involved in the match should be asked before anyone else whether they feel fit enough to play ahead of all other sporting, commercial and scheduling pressures.

Maybe we should realise that these players are human like the rest of us and if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have the beautiful game we love.


Ashley Randall

Ash is a freelance football writer who lives, breathes and dreams the beautiful game. A lifelong Wolverhampton Wanderers season ticket holder, if he isn't at Molineux then he will be watching any game on television that he can set his eyes on. Producing work for various football websites and publications, Ash has also written for regional newspapers and global magazines.



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