Police raid football club

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POLICE raided a training camp of France's football league champions Olympique Marseille (OM) at Fort Romeu in the Pyrenees yesterday and detained four players following allegations that a match against the northern team Valenciennes last month was fixed.

The swoop by Lille police followed the charging of a fourth person, Jorge Burruchaga, a former Argentine international and team member of Valenciennes. He and Christophe Robert, a team-mate, have been accused of receiving money to fix a match on 20 May, allowing the Marseilles side to sail through towards the league championship.

Christophe's wife and another Olympique Marseille player, Jean-Jacques Eydelie, are the others charged so far.

The affair, apart from adding to a generally seedy image suffered by French football in the past few years for financial mismanagement and corruption, could affect the reputation of Bernard Tapie, a minister in the Socialist government voted out of office in March and the leading candidate to take the Marseilles town hall in municipal elections in two years' time.

There has been no official suggestion that Mr Tapie himself was involved. Apart from the criminal consequences, if the team's management is found to have played a role, OM will be relegated to the second division and lose its league title.

Police found 250,000 francs ( pounds 29,000) buried in the garden of Robert's parents in Perigueux last week. Earlier, Jacques Glassmann, another Valenciennes player, said Eydelie had telephoned him and two other members of the northern team on the eve of the match against OM and handed the telephone to Jean- Pierre Bernes, OM's managing director, who offered them money to throw the game.

Valenciennes were relegated to the second division at the end of the season. OM have counter- charged that Valenciennes had tried to organise a draw to avoid relegation.

Mr Bernes was admitted to a Marseilles hospital last week with heart problems. Since then, he has been examined by doctors who decided he was strong enough to face police questioning. His hospital room was later placed under guard.