Football 'bribes' inquiry

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The Independent Online
PARIS - A soccer player for the northern French team of Valenciennes has been questioned on suspicion of accepting a bribe from the league champions, Marseille, last month, writes Julian Nundy.

Christophe Robert spent Thursday in detention in his home town of Perigueux for interrogation by police from Lille after 250,000 francs (pounds 29,500) were found during a search of his parents' home.

Jacques Glassmann, another Valenciennes player, said he and two other players including Robert had received a phone call from Jean-Jacques Eydelle, a player for Olympique Marseille (OM), on the eve of a match on 20 May. OM's chairman is a former government minister, Bernard Tapie.

Eydelle, Glassman said, passed the telephone to Jean-Pierre Bernes, the OM managing director, who offered the three players Fr200,000 each 'not to play too hard'. Other officials and players from Valenciennes at first denied Glassmann's version, but had later corroborated it to an examining magistrate, legal sources said.

Mr Bernes has since made a counter-charge, that a Valenciennes official had contacted him suggesting that they fix the match to end in a draw to prevent Valenciennes' relegation.

In the event, OM won 1-0 and Valenciennes ended the season relegated. The French national football league opened an investigation but agreed to suspend it while OM successfully played Milan for the European Cup the following week.

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