Olympique de Marseille: from glory to sporting collapse
Olympique de Marseille won the UEFA Champions League but was relegated due to a bribery scandal
While PSG is the most important and powerful team in France, historically it is not the most important French team. This is because Olympique de Marseille is the only French team to achieve the ultimate glory in Europe, winning the UEFA Champions League. It is possible that in the coming years, PSG will win this tournament and become the greatest team in French history, but for now, that title belongs to Olympique de Marseille.
Les Olympiens (the club's nickname) won the UEFA Champions League in the 1992/1993 season. However, after winning the European championship title, OM suffered multiple punishments for bribery scandals. It all started in 1986, with the assumption of Bernard Tapie as the new president of the Marseille club. This young businessman set out to win a European Cup for the first time with a French team. And to achieve this, he began to invest a lot of money to buy important players like Didier Deschamps, Alen Boki, Rudi Völler, Franck Sauzée, Enzo Francescoli, Klaus Allofs, Eric Cantona, Abédi Pelé, among other football figures. Thanks to these players, OM became the most powerful team in France.
The first titles as president of the club came in the 1988/1989 season with the winning of Division 1 (French league) and the French Cup. It was a glorious period for Olympique de Marseille, as from 1986 to 1992, the team won 4 French Leagues (4 consecutive leagues) and 1 French Cup. Thanks to these titles, OM overtook Nantes and became the second-winningest team in France, behind Saint Etienne.
They even reached the 1990/91 UEFA Champions League Final, a final that they lost on penalties to Red Star Belgrade. Although they were the best team in France, president Bernard Tapie wanted more. He knew that this team was very close to winning a European title. Just 2 seasons later, OM got its revenge and reached the final of the UEFA Champions League again. This time, the French team beat AC Milan 1-0 (goal by Basile Boli) and became European Champions. In the same season, OM also won the French league again. It was undoubtedly the best moment in the club's history. But everything changed radically in the next season.
A week before the UEFA Champions League final against AC Milan, OM was due to play Valenciennes for the French League. To avoid risking his players before the final, president Bernard Tapie bribed 3 rival players and thus managed to win the match and protect his players. However, this scandal came to light at the end of 1993 along with multiple acts of corruption. It was discovered that for several years, Bernard Tapie bought the matches against Marseille's main opponents in the French league for four seasons. Both UEFA and the French Football Federation (FFF) punished Olympique de Marseille with these punishments:
-Ban from playing international tournaments for 1 year. That is, OM could not play the International Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and lost the right to play the UCL 1993/94. -Lost the French league champion title 1992/1993. -Relegation to the second French category.
However, despite the seriousness of the scandal, the team retained the title of European champions and is still celebrated by Olympique fans with the slogan "À jamais les premiers" ("the first forever"). Finally, in 1995 Bernard Tapie left the club and Robert Louis-Dreyfus took over as the new president, who had the difficult task of organizing and raising an economically devastated club.