Disbelief among the coach and players, annoyance among the club officials: the news that the Women's Handball Bundesliga championship has been cancelled rather than suspended has been met with incomprehension at Borussia Dortmund.
"Health – and this really goes without saying at the present moment – is the highest priority. That said, we have been completely surprised by the timing and the manner in which the cancellation was communicated. There was no communication with us," said department manager Andreas Heiermann. The BVB women were top of the table with 17 wins from 18 fixtures and 34-2 points on the board.
"They could have at least suspended it for four more weeks and then assessed whether the season could be finished by the end of June," Heiermann said. "Perhaps it is the right decision. But it shouldn't have been allowed for it to be made yesterday or today." There were still eight rounds of matches to play. "It's a huge blow for us and we fear there could be long-lasting damage for the entire league."
There was a meeting between the team and the coach on Thursday afternoon. The mood was rock-bottom. "For a sportsperson, it is a setback that is tough to deal with," reported Heiermann, adding: "You play an outstanding season, have only lost one game and otherwise not dropped a point – and you have nothing to show for it."
The department manager and the coach are nonetheless assuming that the team have qualified for the 2020/21 Champions League. And they propose that the cup final round is postponed. Heiermann said: "The only logical decision would be to schedule the Final Four for the end of August or start of September. It would make no sense to do it in the next few months without competitive practice."
Borussia Dortmund have ended the 2019/20 season in first place – and yet they have no title to show for it. "Even if disappointment is the prevailing feeling today, we're proud of what our team and coach have achieved. It was unbelievable," Heiermann said.