Uefa refuses to look into Hateley's Marseilles claim

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The Independent Online

Uefa's disciplinary unit will not reopen their previous investigation into allegations of corruption surrounding Marseilles' 1993 Champions League win despite fresh revelations over the French club's successful campaign that season.

Mark Hateley, the former England striker, was offered what he describes as a "large sum of money" to miss Rangers' crucial away game against Marseilles. He refused the offer, made via a "friend of a friend", but was to miss the match anyway after being sent off in the preceding fixture, against Bruges. Hateley was suspended for the Marseilles match and has also voiced concerns that the referee who dismissed him against the Belgium side had been a target for Bernard Tapie, the Marseilles president.

Tapie served a prison sentence for fixing a French League game that season, but despite numerous allegations and a Uefa investigation their triumph over Milan in the first-ever Champions League final has never been overturned.

Uefa said yesterday that they considered the fact that Marseilles were not allowed to defend their title the following season, for which they were also relegated from the top tier of French football, sufficient punishment for the club.

The governing body of the European game also said they have a "10-year prescription period" after which they will not mount any further inquiries. It means that Marseilles cannot be stripped of the only European trophy won by a French team, despite strong evidence that their path to the trophy was eased by Tapie's machinations. The attempt to bribe Hateley is another striking example of the corruption surrounding the French champions of the time. Hateley received a telephone call in a Glasgow hotel room he was sharing with Trevor Steven ahead of a Scottish Premier League match. He recalled: "It was a French-speaking person, offering me large sums of money not to play against Marseilles. It points the finger at a person, or persons, working within that club not wanting me to play."

Jean Pierre Bernes, once Tapie's right-hand man, admitted that they would try and "buy six or seven games a season" by tapping up players and match officials.

Last night Marcel Desailly, who played in the Marseilles side that won the European Cup in Munich, said: "There is a dark side to Marseilles where anything could happen."

Yesterday Uefa released a statement that said: "After checking with Uefa's disciplinary unit it is clear that from our side the case was dealt with at the time and is now closed. This is due to the 10-year prescription period which has now passed. Thus, it would not be possible to open any further investigations on this matter."

Hateley has acknowledged that he should have come forward sooner. As well as Rangers he also played for Milan and Monaco. "If you're brought up in Italian football then you've seen it all before," he said of corruption in the game.

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