This is a good article. Follow the link for more information.

French football bribery scandal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

French football bribery scandal
Stade Nungesser.jpg
Stade Nungesser in Valenciennes was the venue for the bribed match.
Native name Affaire VA-OM
Date20 May 1993 (1993-05-20)
LocationStade Nungesser, Valenciennes, France
Coordinates50°20′56″N 3°31′37″E / 50.348925°N 3.526847°E / 50.348925; 3.526847
ConvictedBernard Tapie
Jean-Pierre Bernès
Jorge Burruchaga
Jean-Jacques Eydelie
Christophe Robert

The French football bribery scandal (French: Affaire VA-OM) occurred during a 1992–93 French Division 1 match between Valenciennes and Olympique de Marseille. Marseille president Bernard Tapie and general manager Jean-Pierre Bernès bribed Valenciennes players Jorge Burruchaga, Jean-Jacques Eydelie, and Christophe Robert to underperform in the match in order that Marseille could stay fresher for their 1993 UEFA Champions League Final match against A.C. Milan six days later. Valenciennes player Jacques Glassmann refused to partake in the bribe and was the one who publicly revealed the scandal. Glassmann was awarded the 1995 FIFA Fair Play Award for refusing to partake in the bribe.

The scandal led to the league title being taken away from Marseille, but second-placed Paris Saint-Germain declined it so no team is classed as winning the 1992–93 league title. At the subsequent trial, Tapie, Bernès, Burruchaga, Eydelie, and Robert were all convicted of corruption. Tapie and Eydelie were sentenced to jail terms, whilst Bernès, Burruchaga, and Robert all received suspended sentences.

The bribe[edit]


Prior to the 1992–93 French Division 1 season, Olympique de Marseille won the previous four French Division 1 championships.[1][2] They lost the 1991 European Cup Final to Red Star Belgrade with two players unavailable, a circumstance which Marseille president Bernard Tapie did not want to repeat.[3] Marseille had qualified for the 1993 UEFA Champions League Final against A.C. Milan[1] after defeating Club Brugge 1–0 in the last match of the group stage.[4] Marseille were also close to winning the French Division 1 title.[1]

Organising of the bribe[edit]

Bernard Tapie organised the bribe as a way of keeping Marseille players fresh for the 1993 UEFA Champions League Final.

In his autobiography, Valenciennes player Jacques Glassmann said that captain Christophe Robert had asked him to forfeit the Marseille match the day beforehand, 19 May.[3] Bernard Tapie asked Marseille player Jean-Jacques Eydelie to act as conduit to bribe Valenciennes players Glassmann, Robert and Jorge Burruchaga.[1][4][5] In his 2006 book, Eydelie described the event: "Bernard Tapie said to us, 'It is imperative that you get in touch with your former Nantes team-mates at Valenciennes (there were two of them including Burruchaga). We don't want them acting like idiots and breaking us before the final with Milan."[1] At around 21:00 CEST (19:00 UTC) that day, Robert spoke to Eydelie, and he later spoke to Marseille general manager Jean-Pierre Bernès. During the call, Glassman refused to participate in the bribe, whereas the other two accepted the bribe, and an agreement was made for Robert's wife to collect the money from Eydelie.[3] On the day of the match, Robert convinced the Valenciennes team to deliberately lose the match.[3]

The match[edit]

The match was played at Valenciennes' home ground, Stade Nungesser, on 20 May 1993.[3] Marseille's Alen Bokšić scored the only goal in the 21st minute. In the 23rd minute, Christophe Robert was substituted due to an alleged injury after a seemingly innocuous tackle from Éric Di Meco.[3] Referee Jean-Marie Véniel remarked that the game was unusual because Jorge Burruchaga did not dispute any refereeing decisions, as was his normal style, whereas Glassmann spent the match running like he was trying to prove a point.[3] At half time in the match, Glassman told Valenciennes manager Boro Primorac about the bribe.[6] During the second half of the match, Glassman told Véniel about the bribe but he did not specifically name the individuals involved. Véniel spoke to the linesmen and Marseille captain Didier Deschamps about the allegations and noted them in his post-match report.[3] Immediately after the match, police entered the Marseille locker room and questioned some Marseille players.[3]

By winning the match, Marseille secured the 1992–93 French Division 1 title.[3][4] The 1993 UEFA Champions League Final was held six days later. Marseille beat A.C. Milan 1–0,[4] with a 43rd-minute goal from defender Basile Boli.[7] They became the first French team to win the European Cup.[8]


Jean-Jacques Eydelie, who was the conduit for the bribery scandal.

Two weeks after the Valenciennes-Marseille match, Robert contacted Valenciennes magistrate Éric de Montgolfier and admitted his role in the bribery scandal.[6] Detectives raided Robert's aunt's back garden and found F250,000.[4][6][9] Tapie initially claimed that the money was a loan for Robert to start a restaurant, although on 17 June, Robert admitted that the money was related to bribery.[10][11][12][13] On 30 June, French police raided the headquarters of Marseille Football Club.[14] Twelve members of the Marseille team were questioned during a pre-season training session in the Pyrenees. Eydelie admitted paying the bribe and he and Bernès were arrested and put in jail for "active corruption". Robert was later arrested in Périgueux.[9][12][15]:74 Christophe Robert's wife Marie-Christine admitted to collecting the bribe for Eydelie[9] and was charged with conspiracy.[16]

In July 1993, Bernès left his role at Marseille due to the scandal.[17] In September, the French Football Federation (FFF) removed Marseille's French Division 1 title, and UEFA prevented Marseille from competing in the 1993–94 UEFA Champions League, the 1993 European Super Cup and the 1993 Intercontinental Cup. The FFF also suspended Eydelie, Robert and Burruchaga.[1][18][19][20] The French Division 1 title was offered to Paris Saint-Germain F.C., but they refused it so no team is classed as winning the title that season.[21][22][23] Paris Saint-Germain were also offered the 1993–94 UEFA Champions League spot vacated by Marseille, but they refused it because their sponsors Canal+ thought that taking the spot would cause issues with their viewers in Provence. As a result, third-placed AS Monaco took the spot instead.[24] Paris Saint-Germain instead competed in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup as the winners of the 1992–93 Coupe de France.[22][24]

In 1994, Tapie was ordered to resign as president of Marseille.[25] He was replaced by Pierre Cangioni.[26] Tapie and Bernès were banned for life by the FFF, and the players involved were banned from French football until 1 January 1996.[8][27] Bernès' ban was overturned by FIFA in 1996.[27][28]

Due to the bribery scandal and financial difficulties, Marseille were forcibly relegated to Division 2 for the 1994–95 season.[8][24][29] Despite the forced relegation, Marseille were not banned from European competitions,[8] and thus competed in the 1994–95 UEFA Cup. They lost in the second round to Sion on away goals.[30] In 1995, the club filed for bankruptcy and were forced to spend a second season in Division 2.[31][32] The club returned to Division 1 for the 1996–97 season.[20][29]

In 1995, Glassman was awarded the FIFA Fair Play Award for refusing to accept a bribe.[33][34]


The trial into the bribery scandal took place in Valenciennes beginning in March 1995.[3][15]:75 During the trial, Bernès and Eydelie both admitted to corruption, and both blamed Tapie for the incident.[3][10] Bernès claimed that the club used bribery for matches five to six times a season.[35] Eydelie received a reduced playing ban for testifying against Tapie.[10] Tapie admitted to lying, but he claimed that it was in good faith. He also said that the bribe money had come from their Champions League final ticket income.[36][37]

The trial's verdict was delivered on 15 May 1995.[15]:75 Tapie was sentenced to over two years in prison; eight months of the sentence was for match fixing and another eighteen months for fraud in the club's accounts. Tapie was also fined ₣20,000.[2][4] Tapie served six months before being given a conditional release.[38][39]

Bernès, Eydelie, Robert and Burruchaga were all given prison sentences.[4][40] Eydelie was given a one-year sentence, Burruchaga and Robert were given six month suspended sentences, and Bernès was given a two-year suspended sentence and a fine.[41]

Other allegations[edit]

Mark Hateley, who in 2011 alleged that he had been offered money not to play in a 1993 match against Marseille.

After the allegations of bribery, the CSKA Moscow coach claimed that Marseille had tried to bribe him in a 1992–93 UEFA Champions League group stage match, although this allegation was later withdrawn.[9][42]

In a 2011 ITV interview, Rangers footballer Mark Hateley alleged that he had been offered money by Marseille to not play in the Champions League match between the two sides,[43][44] although Hateley ended up being suspended for the match after being sent off in the previous match against Club Brugge.[45] Rangers eventually failed to qualify from the group stage by one goal after drawing 1-1 with Marseille in the penultimate group stage match.[4] In 2010, Walter Smith, Rangers manager at the time, said that he believed Rangers had been cheated out of a Champions League final and a likely chance to win the trophy.[42] UEFA chose not to investigate Hateley's allegations and claimed that Marseille's ban from the 1993–94 UEFA Champions League was sufficient punishment for the club.[46]

In 2006, Eydelie alleged that prior to the 1993 Champions League final, he and other Marseille players were given doping injections.[47][48]

Whilst investigating the Valenciennes match, magistrate Pierre Phillipon accused Tapie of £12 million of fraud in fixing three European Cup and Champions League matches between 1989 and 1993.[49] Tapie and his associates were found not guilty of fraud for these allegations.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Adams, Tom (10 March 2011). "The shame of Marseille". ESPN FC. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b Dauncey, Hugh; Hare, Geoff (1999). France and the 1998 World Cup: The National Impact of a World Sporting Event. Psychology Press. pp. 61–62. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Brigaudeau, Anne. "Le jour où Bernard Tapie a truqué le match Valenciennes-OM" (in French). France Info. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Scott-Elliott, Robin (23 February 2011). "The story of Marseilles' tainted 1993 Cup triumph". The Independent. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  5. ^ Bouchet, Christophe (1994). Tapie, l'homme d'affaires (in French). Éditions du Seuil.
  6. ^ a b c Weir, Christopher (30 October 2018). "The Glory and the Corruption of Marseille's Kings of 1993, the Team that Conquered Europe". These Football Times. Retrieved 3 January 2019. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  7. ^ "Marseille 1-0 Milan". UEFA. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d "Football: Marseille are to be relegated". The Independent. 23 April 1994. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d Bidwell, Nick (12 July 1993). "Football: Scandal leaves a stain on the white shirt of Marseille: Allegations of match-fixing, of franc-filled envelopes buried in gardens are threatening to dethrone the kings of French football". The Independent. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  10. ^ a b c James, Barry (14 March 1995). "Tapie Directly Implicated As Marseille Trial Opens". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  11. ^ Wilson, John K; Pomfret, Richard (September 2014). Public Policy and Professional Sports: International and Australian Experiences. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 126. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  12. ^ a b Zègre, Laurent (7 July 2013). "20 ans après l'affaire VA-OM : l'ex-joueur Christophe Robert toujours hanté par le match truqué". Sud Ouest (in French). Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  13. ^ Glassman, Jacques (2003). Foot et moi la paix (in French). Calmann-Lévy. p. 73.
  14. ^ Belin, Philippe (1995). Le menteur de Marseille ? (in French). J. Grancher. p. 78.
  15. ^ a b c Lestrelin, Ludovic (2010). L'autre public des matchs de football. Sociologie des supporters à distance de l'Olympique de Marseille (in French). Éditions de l'École des hautes études en sciences ciales.
  16. ^ Drozdiak, William (10 July 1993). "French Lament Corruption As Even Soccer is Tainted". The Washington Post. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  17. ^ "Jean-Pierre Bernès n'est plus banni". Libération (in French). 8 June 1996. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  18. ^ Gerschel, Christophe (1994). Les groupements sportifs professionnels : aspects juridiques (in French). L.G.D.J. p. 358.
  19. ^ Canal+ a refusé le titre de champion pour le PSG car la chaîne cryptée ne voulait pas se fâcher avec ses abonnés de province (in French). Mango Sport. 2003. pp. 131–133.
  20. ^ a b Warren, Dan (14 July 2006). "The worst scandal of them all". BBC Sport. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  21. ^ Diallo, Raf (9 March 2016). "When PSG were put in an awkward position after Marseille's scandal-fueled fall from grace". News Talk. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  22. ^ a b "The Greatest French Club Sides of all Time – Part 3". French Football Weekly. 19 July 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  23. ^ Goldblatt, David; Acton, Johnny; Garland, Mike (September 2009). The Football Book. Dorling Kindersley. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  24. ^ a b c Fifield, Dominic (21 February 2015). "Arsenal's Arsène Wenger scarred for life by his war on Med with Monaco". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  25. ^ "Sports People: Soccer; Marseilles President Ordered to Step Down". The New York Times. 11 February 1994. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  26. ^ "A l'OM, Cangioni doit faire la manche". Libération (in French). 6 January 1995. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  27. ^ a b "Retour au ballon". Libération (in French). 16 August 2008. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  28. ^ "Jean-Pierre Bernès, le paria devenu agent millionnaire". France24 (in French). 25 August 2011. Archived from the original on 13 September 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  29. ^ a b Asok, Ashwin. "5 clubs that have won the European Cup and have been relegated". Sportskeeda. Retrieved 3 January 2019. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  30. ^ "Season 1994/95". UEFA. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  31. ^ "Marseille seeking European redemption against Atlético". Diario AS. 15 May 2018. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  32. ^ "Twenty-five years on from scandal-riddled triumph, Marseille have chance to become force again". AOL. 15 May 2018. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  33. ^ Murray, Scott; Walker, Ronan (2008). Day of the Match: A History of Football in 365 Days. Macmillan Publishers. p. 148. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  34. ^ "FIFA Fair Play Award - all-time records" (PDF) (pdf). FIFA. p. 3. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  35. ^ Scott-Elliot, Robin (23 February 2011). "Revealed: Marseilles and the plot to bribe former England star". The Independent. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  36. ^ "Bernard Tapie". Le Figaro. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  37. ^ Leauthier, Alan (21 May 1997). "Tapie le dit: VA-OM était truqué. Au procès des comptes du club marseillais, il n'a pu éluder la corruption". Libération (in French). Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  38. ^ "IMF faces losing second French boss". The Daily Telegraph. 10 March 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  39. ^ Verdez, Gilles; Evin, Guillaume (2015). Les VIPères du foot (in French). Éditions Du Moment [fr]. p. 87. ISBN 978-2354173746.
  40. ^ "Affaire VA-OM : Bernard Tapie en prison". Linternaute (in French). Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  41. ^ Lengel, David (29 July 2016). "The Joy of Six: sports executives who paid for their crimes in prison". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  42. ^ a b McDermott, Scott (7 November 2010). "I've had 17 years of hurt with the Champions League, says Walter Smith". Daily Record. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  43. ^ "Ligue des champions 1993: nouvelles accusations de Hateley contre l'OM". 20 Minutes (in French). 24 February 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  44. ^ Lambert, Maxime (23 February 2011). "Un ancien joueur des Rangers accuse l'OM de corruption en 1993 Partager sur Facebook43Recevoir la newsletter". Gentside Sport (in French). Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  45. ^ Mannion, Damion (24 April 2013). "Robbed? Why Rangers could have been the first Champions League winners". Talksport. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  46. ^ Scott-Elliot, Robin (24 February 2011). "Uefa refuses to look into Hateley's Marseilles claim". The Independent. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  47. ^ "UEFA to probe Marseille '93 allegations". ESPN FC. 23 January 2006. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  48. ^ "Tapie takes legal action over doping allegations". The Daily Telegraph. 25 January 2006. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  49. ^ Lacey, David (3 January 1997). "Tapie is accused of fixing European ties". The Irish Times. Retrieved 21 December 2018.