Marseille Bribery Scandal


On May 20, 1993, Marseille took on Valenciennes in a French League match. With a European Cup final against Milan coming up less than a week later, victory would mean that Marseille retained the French League championship without the need to get a result against title rivals Paris St Germain in their final game. An easy victory would also help the team in their preparations for the big game ahead.

To the delight of everyone concerned with Marseille, the game went entirely to plan as they strolled to a 1-0 win which confirmed them as champions for the fifth consecutive time and set them up for the European Cup Final which was just a few days away. Unfortunately it soon became clear that there were sinister reasons for this perfect outcome.

Valenciennes player Jacques Glassman revealed that he had been in the same hotel room as two of his teammates, Christophe Robert and Jorge Burruchaga, when they had been been called by Marseille player Jean-Jacques Eydelie and offered bribes which they accepted to take it easy in the forthcoming match.

Eydelie subsequently claimed that he was acting on the instructions of club general secretary Jean-Pierre Bernes. The wife of Christophe Robert claimed that she had collected the money from Eydelie. Police later discovered 250,000 francs buried in the garden of Robert’s mother-in-law.

Marseille were eventually found guilty of bribing the Valenciennes players. They were stripped of their French title and relegated. In court Bernes said that he had acted on the orders of club President Bernard Tapie. Tapie claimed that the 250,000 francs had been a loan to help Robert start a restaurant. He served five months of a two year jail sentence. Eydelie served 17 days in prison. Burruchaga and Robert were both suspended from football for two years.

UEFA subsequently denied Marseille the opportunity to defend their title although their European Cup win still stood as there was no proof that any European Cup games had been affected. However, following their 6-0 win over CSKA Moscow in the final group stage, there were allegations by the CSKA coach, later withdrawn, that his players had been bribed and had their drinks spiked. In 2011, Rangers striker Mark Hateley claimed that, following the first game against Marseille when he had scored a late equaliser, he had received a telephone call saying that it would be 'financially rewarding' for him not to play in the return match in France. Hateley was controverailly sent off in Rangers game against Bruges which meant that he was suspended for the Marseilles match. The final game in the group which saw Marseilles beat Bruges 1-0 and qualify for the final formed part of the French prosecution of Tapie.

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