“VA-OM”: thirty years ago the biggest scandal in the history of French football broke out

Thanks to Basile Boli’s goal and the victory over AC Milan in the final, OM are “forever the first”, as the supporters still sometimes chant thirty years later. But every coin has its downside. Separated by only six days, the first European coronation of a French club finds its counterpart in the so-called “VA-OM” match affair, which will precipitate the Marseille club and French football into the legal system for nearly five years.

VA-OM is the story of the biggest corruption case ever uncovered in French football. At the start, it is a question of a simple advanced match of the 36th day, this Thursday, May 20, 1993 at the Nungesser stadium, in Valenciennes (North). Match that OM do not want to lose, to keep PSG and Monaco at a distance, both at 4 points. While preserving its players, in view of the grand final against Milan, six days later in Munich (Germany).

Three Valenciennes are approached by OM to “slow down” against 200,000 francs at the time (30,000 euros): Jorge Burruchaga, Christophe Robert and Jacques Glassmann. Jean-Jacques Eydelie, OM player and former teammate of Glassmann in Tours (1987-1988), and Jean-Pierre Bernès, the club’s managing director, play the role of intermediaries.

Christophe Robert’s 200,000 francs buried in a garden

OM opened the scoring quickly thanks to Croatian striker Alen Boksic and won 1-0 in the 18th (finally relegated to D2), but Jacques Glassmann did not intend to be corrupted or intimidated. He reveals the maneuver during the match by warning the referee Jean-Marie Véniel just before the kick-off of the second period – a technical reserve is deposited by the northern club -, then he testifies at the 20 Hours of Antenne 2 on Saturday following the game. OM triumph in Munich the following Wednesday (1-0), but the fire has caught on and continues to intensify.

The Professional League (then chaired by Noël Le Graët) lodged a complaint against X. Éric de Montgolfier, the Valenciennes prosecutor, opened a judicial investigation. Soon, the soap opera VA-OM made the headlines. The gendarmes find the 200,000 francs accepted by Christophe Robert and buried in the garden of the latter’s mother-in-law in Périgord. Burruchaga also accepted the money.

Tapie sentenced to prison

At the headquarters of OM, tickets are seized, identical to those given by Eydelie to Ms. Robert in the parking lot of the Novotel in Valenciennes, the day before the match. The weeks pass, the masks fall. Bernès, Eydelie, Robert and Burruchaga admit their involvement and are indicted for corruption on July 7.

At the beginning of September, UEFA excluded OM from European competitions. In France, OM was stripped of the 1993 title. On February 10, 1994, it was the turn of the president-owner, Bernard Tapie (deceased October 3, 2021) himself, to be indicted. Then, at the end of April, OM were relegated to the 2nd division despite their 2nd place in the standings.

The trial was held from early March 1995 to mid-May. For corruption and subornation of witnesses, Tapie was sentenced to two years in prison, including a firm reduced to eight months on appeal, three years of ineligibility and a fine of 20,000 francs (3,000 euros). He will be imprisoned for six months in the prison of Health, in Paris, then in Aix-Luynes between February and July 1997, before being placed on parole. Bernès takes two years in prison suspended, Eydelie one year suspended, Robert and Burruchaga six months suspended.

For his part, Glassmann, whose professional career ended in 1994, at the age of 32, will be compensated up to 1 franc in damages for non-pecuniary damage.



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