Football: Tapie takes his bribery rap to new extremes

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France

BERNARD TAPIE, the former politician and tycoon who was convicted of rigging a football match involving Marseilles, the club he owned, is re- pleading his innocence - on a rap record. The song, a duet with French rap star Doc Gyneco and entitled Life's Great, has Gyneco asking Tapie whether it's true he paid the Valenciennes team to throw a crucial game in 1993. "Are you kidding?" chirps Tapie, who spent six months in prison in 1997. "I love those Valenciennes people." The song, which also has Tapie saying he was "struck but not sunk" by the bribery charges, will appear on Gyneco's album, Dangerous Liaisons.

Elsewhere in , Paris St Germain are holding emergency talks after their third defeat in 10 days. The club's executive president, Charles Bietry, was reportedly in contact with former Nantes coach Jean-Claude Suaudeau last week after PSG's humiliating first-round exit from the European Cup-Winners' Cup. Suaudeau is currently out of work and the current PSG coach, Alain Giresse, can hardly feel safe following Sunday's 1-0 home defeat by Lens. If something is not done soon, Bietry's own job could be might be on the line, as PSG's owners, the television station Canal Plus, will not wait for ever for a turnaround in fortunes.

Netherlands

THE DUTCH champions, Ajax, announced yesterday that they are in talks with the Belgian First Division team, Germinal Ekeren, with a view to forming some sort of partnership. "We are looking at foreign sides, the point being to expand the potential pool of new talent," a club spokesman said. In May, Ajax floated 27 per cent of its share capital and said it planned to use most of the funds to develop its celebrated youth programme within and outside the Netherlands. Ajax have already struck up a partnership with South African side Seven Stars, the former club of South African international Benni McCarthy, who moved to Ajax a year ago. Ekeren plan to merge with Third Division Beerschot by next season, but this is not related to the Ajax talks.

Romania

FORMER FIFA referees Adrian Porumboiu and Mircea Mesu resigned at the weekend as president and vice-president of their referees' disciplinary commission saying they were not being allowed to do their job properly. "I sent a fax to tell the Romanian Soccer Federation (FRF) of my resignation as our Commission's decisions were repeatedly overruled by higher FRF's bodies," Porumboiu said. Romanian football has been dogged by corruption and match-fixing allegations and Porumboiu and Mesu had hoped to improve matters. However, when the referees' disciplinary commission banned a referee for three months the decision was reversed by the FRF's appeal commission. "The Commission also banned referee Sorin Vadana for five games, but the FRF reduced the ban without any real reason," Porumboiu said. "It's happened after the intervention of a high official."

China

ONE COUNTRY taking matters to the other extreme is China, which has taken the rare action of stripping one of its nationally qualified referees, Yu Yuancong, of his credentials after making serious "technical errors." Yu's downfall was linked to a cup match last week between Dalian Wanda and Liaoning Tianrun which led to bitter protests from the Dalian club after Yu disallowed one goal and then decided not to award a penalty.

After complaints from Liaoning Tianrun, the China Football Association wrote to the Dalian Wanda Club and the Dalian Football Association, saying that Yu had made several mistaken calls in recent games. "There were serious technical errors that had directly or indirectly affected the outcome of the matches and led to heightened dissatisfaction of some competing teams and fans alike," the letter said.

Brazil

THE FLAMENGO striker, Romario, celebrated a goal last week by making an obscene gesture with his finger to the team's fans.

Claiming they had been abusing him he said: "They're a bunch of idiots who just want to get themselves noticed."

Someone must have reprimanded the Brazilian striker since then. After scoring at the weekend, his only gesture to the crowd was to blow kisses.

Spain

WHAT A CRUEL game football can be. After Deportivo La Coruna goalkeeper Nuno Espirito Santo found Peter Rufai had replaced him as understudy to Cameroon international Jacques Songo'o, he said: "This is the most upset I've been in my life. Nobody can understand the sadness I feel at the moment."

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