German authorities say soccer team was likely target of explosions that injured player – Los Angeles Times
Three explosions went off near the team bus of Borussia Dortmund, one of Germany’s top soccer clubs, as it set off for a Champions League quarterfinal match on Tuesday evening, slightly injuring a player.
The police chief for the German city of Dortmund said it’s not clear yet who was behind the explosions. Chief Gregor Lange told reporters late Tuesday that police decided at an early stage that the soccer team was the target of the explosions and are not excluding any possible angles in their investigation.
A prosecutor said a letter found outside the hotel the team bus was departing from when the explosions happened “takes responsibility for the act.” Prosecutor Sandra Luecke said authorities won’t give details of the letter at this stage, citing the ongoing investigation.
Borussia Dortmund’s match against Monaco was canceled and rescheduled for Wednesday.
Lange says officers are doing everything “to provide security and that will be the case [Wednesday], too.”
They didn’t elaborate on the possible nature of the devices or say who might have planted them ahead.
Police said that there were three explosions near the Dortmund team bus as they left their hotel on the outskirts of the western city of Dortmund for the stadium, about 6 miles away, at around 7 p.m. local time.
A window on the bus was damaged, and Spanish defender Marc Bartra was injured.
Dortmund said Bartra was taken to a hospital. Dortmund Chief Executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said Bartra was injured in the arm and hand “but nothing life-threatening.”
Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Buerki 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 Monaco, which plays in the French league, 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 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,” Watzke said.
He added that there was “no alternative” but to reschedule the match for Wednesday, as Monaco also has to play on 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.
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 soccer friendly against the Netherlands was canceled just before kickoff after police feared an explosive device might be detonated at the stadium.
It came days after devices were detonated outside the Stade de France in Paris as France was playing Germany as part of a coordinated attack on the French capital.
3:35 p.m.: This article was updated and rewritten throughout with new information, including news that the soccer team was the likely target of the blasts.
This article was originally published at 11:35 a.m.