Football: Tapie takes ban to courts

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The Independent Online
BERNARD TAPIE, ousted by the French Football Federation from his post as the president of Olympique Marseille, plans to challenge the club's relegation in the courts and before the country's highest sporting body, club officials said yesterday.

And Jean-Pierre Bernes, the former Marseille general manager, who along with Tapie has been banned from French football for life, threatened to expose widespread corruption in French football.

Marseille were relegated to the second division on Friday and one player was suspended for bribing Valenciennes players to lose a league match 11 months ago. The Marseille player affected was Jean-

Jacques Eydelie and two Valenciennes players, Christophe Robert and Jorge Burruchaga, were similarly punished. Money, said to be the pounds 37,000bribe, was found in a garden belonging to Robert's family.

None of the players are allowed to play in France until 1 July 1996. The federation said that, if Fifa, the world governing body, allowed it, they might be able to sign for foreign clubs.

Tapie, a minister in the last Socialist government and a possible future mayor of Marseilles who also faces legal charges, said of the punishment: 'I thought I had seen everything in the past few months.' Alain Laroche, the club's financial director, said they would challenge the ruling to the National Olympic Committee, French sport's highest authority, as well as take the matter to court. Under French sporting regulations, there is no formal appeals procedure.

Bernes, charged with orchestrating the bribe, went on the attack. Referring to Noel Le Graet, the president of the league, he said: 'Since he wants to play this stupid game, I'm going to give him the means. I'm going to try and recall everything I've heard, seen and written in the past 13 years. I'm going to reveal everything and then we will see if the Napoleon of French football is such a strong man.'

Although Marseille's relegation had been expected, the severity of the punishment nevertheless took the club by surprise. Marseille had already been stripped of last year's league title and banned from international competition for a season. The match against Valenciennes was apparently fixed to allow Marseille players an easy match ahead of the European Cup final against Milan, which the French side won the following week.