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Open letter from Hans-Joachim Watzke to all BVB fans

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Hans-Joachim Watzke has addressed all Borussia Dortmund fans and members in an open letter, declaring: "I've always placed BVB's well-being above everything else."

Dear members,
dear fans of Borussia Dortmund,

we've just finished a season which is difficult to describe in words and can't be reviewed in a few sentences. A season that has affected us very, very deeply. And while it culminated in a great triumph in Berlin on Saturday, there are some things that need explaining. I've therefore taken the rather unusual measure of addressing you directly in an open letter.

The loss of Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gündogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan; the integration of many young and incredibly talented players; the long-term absence of several players, who as key performers and experienced hands were a key part of our plans at this time of upheaval: these challenges alone would've been enough this season. The clashes at the home game with RB Leipzig soon after the winter break and the ensuing closure of the South Stand shook us. And with the cowardly bomb attack on our team, we were subjected to an experience in the run-up to the Champions League match against Monaco that went far beyond anything we could've imagined. The attacker's aim was to kill the people on board our Team Bus. The greatest miracle and, simultaneously, the greatest gift in the history of Borussia Dortmund was the fact that nobody lost their lives that day. Our gratefulness for that is existential and isn't something we can even begin to compare with the gratefulness we feel upon winning a title.

In light of these events, our sporting performance is all the more remarkable. The 2016/17 season saw Borussia Dortmund qualify for a European competition for the eighth successive year (six of those have been for the Champions League). At the end of the campaign we secured third spot in the Bundesliga with an exhilarating win over Werder Bremen. We reached the DFB Cup final for the fourth year in a row – in itself a record. We brought the Cup home from Berlin and presented it to you all at our victory parade on Sunday. Being able to celebrate such a success with a quarter of a million people lining the streets makes us proud and thankful. It gives us goosebumps. We would like to thank you for that!

Thanks go to everyone at the club who helped us to get through these testing times. Of course, thanks and great respect go above all to our players, who emerged from this situation stronger rather than being crushed by it. This squad has made history. But, and this goes without saying, thanks also go to our coach Thomas Tuchel and his team!

The fact that Borussia Dortmund and Thomas Tuchel are nonetheless parting company has provoked criticism and a lack of understanding from some sections of our fan base. We, the people responsible for the board of management, the club committees and the KGaA, can understand this. With Thomas Tuchel at the helm, BVB enjoyed two successful years in which our sporting objectives were achieved. However, we – Sporting Director Michael Zorc and myself – also did not always see eye to eye with the coaching staff during this period of collaboration. When it comes to leadership responsibilities, it is not the result alone that matters – and in that respect, Borussia Dortmund is ultimately no different to any other sports club or business. What also matters are fundamental values such as trust, respect, the ability to communicate and work as a team, authenticity and identification. Qualities such as reliability and loyalty.

Unfortunately, we no longer believed the current coaching arrangement offered us a foundation for a successful future collaboration based on trust. That is why, following intensive talks and numerous discussions, we ultimately decided the best measure would be not to extend the cooperation with the coaching staff beyond the end of the 2016/17 season. This joint decision is unanimously supported by all committees within the club and the KGaA. I would like to ask you to understand that we cannot and will not provide any precise explanations either at this stage or in the future. The protection of trust has been a key component of the leadership culture in the more than a decade that I have been here.

For me, it is important to make it clear that this decision was not made on the basis of whether two people could enjoy a beer together or have a game of cards. If we were to trivialise matters in such a way, we would be irresponsible and poor decision-makers. I am also not of the opinion that leadership personnel at a club and a coach always need to be the best of friends. The very special relationship that we, particularly Michael Zorc and I, enjoyed with Jürgen Klopp was never the benchmark by which we judged our collaboration with Thomas Tuchel and it will never be the benchmark for any future BVB coaches.

I would like to ensure one more thing: since I have been working in positions of responsibility at Borussia Dortmund, I have always placed the well-being of BVB over everything else. The same applies for Michael Zorc, Thomas Treß and our President Dr. Reinhard Rauball, as well as the members of our committees. Borussia Dortmund has learned from the failures that took the club to within an inch of bankruptcy in 2004/05. We all analyse our actions self-critically, nobody believes they are more important than the club and nobody puts personal vanities above the interests of Borussia Dortmund.

Your, dear members and fans of Borussia Dortmund, have helped the club through some difficult times in the past few months with your unconditional support. Once again, I thank you for this. I would like to finish by requesting that you continue to place your full confidence in Michael Zorc and myself, as well as all other persons in positions of responsibility at Borussia Dortmund – just as you have consistently done in recent years.

Your Aki Watzke