Marseille FC Doping Scandal – The Most Controversial UCL Winner Ever?

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Posted: December 8, 2023

Updated: December 8, 2023

  • Do you remember Marseille's doping allegations in 1993?
  • The scandal threw shade on their only Champions League victory

If you follow the UEFA Champions League for a while, you may remember the Olympique de Marseille FC doping scandal that threw shade on their victory in 1993. Unfortunately, their only UCL triumph is still remembered 30 years later, and not for a good reason.

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What Happened During the 1993 UEFA Champions League?

For the 1992/93 European Cup season, UEFA changed the name of the tournament as well as the format, so more teams could be involved in the most prestigious championship in Europe. The Champions League was supposed to become the most exciting mid-week event for any European country, and it did become it, having turned into the championship we all follow at online sportsbooks in France.

Marseille FC was the one to win the first rebranded tournament. In 1993, they dominated Ligue 1 as well and came up as UCL runners-up two years earlier. The team included old and future stars – Fabien Barthez, Marcel Desailly, Rudi Völler, Abedi Pele, and Didier Deschamps. They won against none other than AC Milan, who at the time had one of the best squads of all time that included young Paolo Maldini and Dutch greats – Rijkaard and van Basten. The French team won 1–0 thanks to Basile Boli’s goal in the 44th minute. This game was also the last for van Basten. 

The championship was a success and the final game had the biggest audience on TV in the history of European Cup finals. However, its legacy would be overshadowed by allegations of doping usage, specifically medical injections to boost physique of Marseille players.

Marseille FC Doping Scandal: Allegations

Allegedly, some of that year’s Marseille’s team members were boosting themselves with doping injections. It is assumed that at least four players – Desaiily, Eydelie, Waddle, Cascarino – actually used them. According to Eydelie, all players took these injections, except for Völler. 

Marseille FC doping scandal
Image source: Flickr

Desaiily and Cascarino added that the at-the-time president of the club himself gave pills and injections to the players. What was the point? Supposedly, he did what they did for the win and not to repeat the recent near-misses, specifically the 1991 UCL final, when they finished second, and the 1992 fiasco, when they were eliminated by Sparta Prague very early into the championship. To avoid that, he signed Barthez and Desailly to improve the team, and, apparently, completed it with doping injections.

More Accusations – Match Fixing in Ligue 1

To add to Marseille FC doping scandal, it was concluded that they got themselves involved in match fixing. Several days before the final Champions League game, Marseille were supposed to play Valenciennes in Ligue 1. The president of the club, Bernard Tapie, bribed the opposing team, so his squad could rest before the UCL final and none of the players would be injured. The “win” meant that Marseilles took the 1993 Ligue 1 title right before the Champions League final. In the end, the title would be stripped of Marseille and left unattributed.

Aftermath

After a two-year investigation, Tapie was found guilty of match fixing and was sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment. The scandal put a stain on the Ligue 1 and could have even ruined UCL’s reputation right after it was established. Luckily, it didn’t, and we can still bet on the Champions League at online gambling sites in France.

At the same time, Marseille FC was banned from 1993/94 UCL participation. The club’s name was denigrated for a long time, and the scandals proved to be too much of a struggle for the club – they would not win their next title until the 2009/10 season.

30 years after the Marseille FC doping scandal, the team does quite okay. They haven’t won any major tournaments since 1993, except for Ligue 1 and local championships. Currently, they are in the top 10 of their domestic league and have decent Ivibet odds of taking their 10th title in 2024.

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