Bernard Tapie built Olympique de Marseille into one of France and Europe’s top football sides but it all came crashing down on this day in soccer history in 1993 when the club was dealt a huge blow from l'affaire VA-OM.
After taking over the club in 1986, Tapie was focused on building the French side into a European powerhouse. He went after top players Didier Deschamps, Chris Waddle, Basile Boli, Marcel Desailly, Rudi Völler, Fabien Barthez and Eric Cantona and it looked to be paying off with the club winning 4 League titles between 1989 and 1992.
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Marseille topped off their domestic run with a 1-0 win over AC Milan in the 1993 UEFA Champions League final to become the only French team to win Europe’s top trophy and in the inaugural season with the expanding format.
The party ended, however, after the start of the 1993/94 campaign when it was found that Tapie took the club’s motto ‘Droit Au But,’ French for ‘Straight to the Goal,’ a little too literally and in the process got involved in a match fixing scandal to make sure the French side made it to his goals.
L'affaire VA-OM revolved around a match fixing scandal with Valenciennes. The Ligue 1 match was scheduled ahead of Marseille’s all important UEFA Champions League final and Tapie wanted to make sure his side won and none of his top players were injured in the process. OM player Jean-Jacques Eydelie contacted Jacques Glassmann, Jorge Burruchaga and Christophe Robert of Valenciennes to make sure all went smoothly and Marseille marched on.
The downfall of Marseille was quick and decisive. The team was stripped of their league title, banned from defending their Champions League crown and barred from the Intercontinental Cup. In addition to the match fixing, financial irregularities resulted in Marseille being relegated to Ligue 2. The penalties were not only on the team as several players and staff saw FIFA bans come there way while Tapie received a two year prison term.
Marseille has slowly re-emerged as one of France’s top teams. Robert Louis-Dreyfus bought the team in 1997 and under his guidance are once again a contender.
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1936 – Maurice Evans, English footballer and manager (d. 2000)
1966 – Stefan Rehn, Swedish footballer
1970 – Emmanuel Petit, French footballer
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1984 – Eduardo Rubio, Chilean footballer
1985 – Faris Haroun, Belgian footballer
2007 – Bodinho, Brazilian footballer (b. 1928)