A former adviser to the ex-president of Olympique Marseille has claimed the club used to fix matches and even spiked their opponents’ drinks bottles with psychotropics.
Marc Fratani, a former parliamentary adviser to ex-Olympique Marseille president Bernard Tapie, has made the claims in an interview with French newspaper Le Monde.
Fratani claims that Tapie, who was a Member of the French National Assembly at the time, “bought” matches against Marseille’s biggest rivals for four seasons starting in 1989 and says that he himself participated in one of the alleged match-fixing operations.
He said: “I participated once in the ‘buying’ of a referee. It was a match against Paris Saint-Germain in Paris. The day after the match I went to give him the money in a discrete place that had been agreed upon.”
Fratani also claims that Tapie “destabilised opponents using psychotropics: Haldol, an anaesthetic. Using syringes with ultra-fine needles the product was injected into plastic bottles.”
The former advisor says that Marseille’s former sporting director Jean-Pierre Bernes recognised that the club had “robbed” two titles from Monaco during that period, something former Monaco manager Arsene Wenger had previously suggested.
Fratani says Tapie wanted to “convert Marseille fans into his voters” by guaranteeing success. Tapie was the MP for the Bouches-du-Rhone 6 constituency from 1989 to 1992 and from 1993 to 1996.
He also said that the club’s former president paid Valenciennes in 1993 to ensure that none of his players were injured in the match between the two sides a few days before Marseille’s Champions League final against AC Milan.
Marseille went on to win the final 1-0 with defender Basile Boli scoring the winner.
Tapie was accused of fixing the match against Valenciennes and his club was later stripped of its French league championship, though not of the Champions League title, and suffered a forced relegation to the second division because of financial irregularities widely blamed on the president.
Fratani said: “Tapie has always claimed that he was unjustly condemned, but I was there and he was not alone the day he asked for 250,000 francs to be given to Bernes before going to Valenciennes. Tapie was the sponsor of the act of corruption.”
The former Marseille president has denied the claims in comments made to Le Parisien, saying: “There are idiots who want to believe all that because it pleases them and there are people who have a conscience. They will realise that all of this is just noise. So if he (Fratani) bought a referee one day, he must give his name, say where, when and who gave him the money. I have no more comments to make. It’s not worth it and nothing happened.”