The Table Tennis Bundesliga is in turmoil. A dispute between the heavyweights TTC Neu-Ulm and archrival Borussia Düsseldorf as well as the table tennis Bundesliga (TTBL) threatens to escalate. The focus: Olympic bronze medalist Dimitrij Ovtcharov.
The German star player from Neu-Ulm made the conflict public - and threatened personal consequences. He outlined that he obviously didn't want to simply accept the controversy surrounding his teammates Truls Möregardh and Lin Yun-Ju. "Unfortunately, it is more than questionable whether I can continue in the TTBL as my teammates Truls and Yun-Ju have been suspended from the league and fined financially," Ovtcharov announced on his Instagram channel.
The exceptional players Möregardh and Yun-Ju are primarily intended for the lucrative and prestigious assignments outside of the Bundesliga. In order to give the two match practice, the club loaned the players to other clubs in Japan and Sweden, but did not submit the required applications to the TTBL by the deadline. The sanctioned Möregardh and Yun-Ju, both are suspended for ten games in the 2023/24 season and have to pay a fine of 10,000 euros each.
Ovtcharov is particularly upset with Andreas Preuss. On the one hand, he is a manager at Neu-Ulm's league competitor Borussia Düsseldorf, but on the other hand he is also the head of the TTBL supervisory board. TTBL sees this as a gross conflict of interest.
"Playing in a league in which the chairman of the supervisory board is also responsible for Borussia Düsseldorf and decides everything to achieve a personal advantage is difficult for me and my teammates to imagine," he wrote on Instagram, but deleted the post again a short time later. This passage from the 34-year-old could no longer be found either: “Hopefully the TTBL can have an independent board in the future!!! I'm sure it would be better for the sport."
At the TTC Neu-Ulm, the Möregardh and Yun-Ju cause becomes a stress test. "We knew they broke the contract. We also checked the contracts beforehand. We simply have a different interpretation of the contracts about the consequences," said club boss Florian Ebener in an interview with Bavarian radio. The TTBL will probably take a further position on the case this Tuesday - and will probably also deal with Ovtcharov's allegations.
In any case, the competition between the two clubs is fierce. Before this season, Neu-Ulmer signed four top 10 players in the current world rankings in order to win the most important European club trophy for the first time. The Düsseldorf team won the Champions League and the previous competition, the European Champions' Cup, six times each.
The German champions Düsseldorf reached the final of the Champions League again on Sunday after an epic game. After more than four hours, Europe's most successful club defeated TTC Neu-Ulm in a first-ever overtime of the second leg of the semifinals. The opponent in the final is 1. FC Saarbrücken, who won a second Bundesliga duel with Post SV Mühlhausen from Thuringia 3-1 and 3-1.
The Neu-Ulmer won the cup final in January (3-0) and last Wednesday also the first leg of the Champions League against Düsseldorf (3-2). But on Sunday, Düsseldorf won the second game 3-2 and forced the “Golden Match”, which was played for the first time in the men's Champions League.