THE corruption scandal involving the French and European champions, Marseille, took a new turn yesterday when they were accused of offering money to the Russian club, CSKA Moscow, before a European Champions' League match in March, writes Rupert Metcalf.
European football's governing body, Uefa, is to investigate the allegations - but they want to know why CSKA did not make a complaint at the time.
'Uefa cannot allow people to say whatever they want,' Andre Vieli, a Uefa press officer, said. 'It is surprising that the Russians should have waited so long to come forward.'
In a league where goal difference could have been crucial, Marseille beat CSKA Moscow 6-0 at home on 17 March on their way to the European Cup final, where they unexpectedly beat Milan to take Europe's top club trophy. Gennady Kostylev, the CSKA coach, said yesterday: 'I received a telephone call at our team hotel in Marseille from a person claiming to be a Marseille director, offering money to lose the match.'
Last month, however, Kostylev had told a Russian newspaper that bribery attempts had been made by Marseille officials before both their Champions' League encounters: the 6-0 defeat in France and the 1-1 draw in Berlin on 3 March.
The French champions are also under domestic investigation for corruption after Christophe Robert, a Valenciennes player, admitted receiving 250,000 francs ( pounds 29,500) to ensure that his side lost a vital league match on 20 May. Marseille won the game 1-0 en route to their title success.
Bernard Tapie, the Marseille president, has said that his club are often the victims of unproved innuendo because of their success, but he has added that any employee charged with corruption would be immediately suspended by the club.
Jean-Jacques Eydelie, the Marseille player who allegedly delivered the money to Robert, had his request for bail rejected by a judge in Valenciennes yesterday. He was charged with corruption on Sunday. His lawyer, Thierry Herzog, said his client 'is being treated like a hostage, alone in his cell, without light.'
Leeds United are still waiting to seal the pounds 3.25m signing of the Dundee United striker, Duncan Ferguson, after talks broke down yesterday. The Scottish international is unhappy about Dundee United's insistence on a clause preventing Leeds from selling him on to Rangers, who have tabled a bid of pounds 3.75m.
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