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By ESPN Staff

Former Marseille chairman to sue ex-player for libel

PARIS, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Former Olympique Marseille chairman Bernard Tapie will sue former club player Jean-Jacques Eydelie and the French sports weekly L'Equipe Magazine over an interview published on Saturday. Eydelie, who was found guilty of bribery in the 1993 Valenciennes-OM match-fixing scandal, accused Tapie of various misdemeanours in the interview.

In response Tapie told The Journal du Dimanche he would sue Eydelie for libel.

'Eydelie, who is out of a job, tries to blackmail my former players and former members of my staff to get some money,' Tapie said.

'I'm going to sue him for libel. We are not going to make the Valenciennes-OM story all over again. A verdict was issued. It's over now.'

Tapie, a former minister in French president Francois Mitterrand government during the 1990s, was sentenced to eight months in prison. He was also banned from having any position in soccer for five years.

In the interview Eydelie, who is to publish a book about the club, said 'cheating was like second nature for Tapie'.

Eydelie said he was ordered to give money to the wife of former Valenciennes player Christophe Robert to convince him to lose the match in 1993 against visitors Marseille.

Marseille won 1-0 and clinched their fifth consecutive title. They were stripped of the championship the following year and demoted to the second division after the scandal erupted.

Eydelie also said he and several of his team mates received injections before the 1993 Champions League final against AC Milan.

'Before the final, we were asked to stand in a line in order to receive an injection,' Eydelie was quoted as saying.

'(Former German international) Rudi Voeller was the only one to kick up a fuss. He went on yelling at everyone in the changing room, speaking in his mother language.'

Marseille beat Milan 1-0 to become the first French club to lift Europe's top club trophy.

Eydelie did not provide any details about the substance injected into the players but said he felt physically weird during the match.

Tapie denied the doping allegations.

'An anti-doping test was performed after the match in Munich. It turned out to be negative,' he said. 'Mass doping is impossible in sport. Those who take drugs do it with the help of their personal doctor.'

Judge Eric de Mongolfier, who led the investigation into the Valenciennes-OM case, said Eydelie's revelations were of little interest.

'Back then, he (Eydelie) refused to put the blame on Tapie. What he says now only confirms what was going on in the soccer world at that time,' de Mongolfier said.

Several former Marseille players reacted cautiously to the accusations.

'Eydelie is a friend of mine but we can clearly see that his only concern is to get the public's attention on him again with this statement,' said former France captain Marcel Desailly.

Voeller called the interview 'unbelievable'.

'I can't remember what happened before the Champions League final,' he said. 'I can't remember my team mate receiving an injection of any kind.

'It's true that I had frequent clashes with Tapie.'

In Italy, AC Milan deputy chairman Adriano Galliani asked European soccer's governing body to launch an investigation into the doping allegations.

'We are certain that UEFA is to investigate the case and if they didn't do it we will officially ask them to,' Galliani said on the club's website.