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Hateley makes new Marseille bribe claim

Former Rangers striker Mark Hateley has claimed he was offered money to miss a Champions League game against eventual champions Marseille in 1993.

Marseille pipped the Gers to a place in the inaugural Champions League final and went on to lift the trophy after beating AC Milan, but their victory has always tainted by allegations of match-fixing.

The French club's owner Bernard Taipe was accused of bribing referees and players to influence the outcome of matches, and Marseille were stripped of their domestic league title in the same season, though UEFA have always refused to revoke l'OM's European Cup triumph.

Hateley's fresh claims will undoubtedly reopen discussions of the validity of Marseille's Champions League success, after he revealed he had been offered a bribe to miss a crucial clash with the French champions, who he had already scored against in the competition.

The former England striker claims that an agent offered him "large sums of money" to miss the second meeting between the sides in the Champions League final group stage, from which the two finalists were decided.

"It was a friend of a friend, who had got in touch via certain routes, basically asking me not to play," Hateley told an ITV documentary about the French side's 1993 triumph. "It would be financially rewarding for you, he said, should I not play in the Marseille game.

"He was not an agent I knew, but another agent had given him the number. It was a French-speaking person, offering me large sums of money not to play against Marseille. It points the finger at a person, or persons, working within that club not wanting me to play."

Hateley refused the bribe, but went on to miss the Marseille game anyway after being controversially sent off in the preceeding game against Club Brugge, a decision that he suspected may have been influenced by Taipe.

"As soon as that [the red card] came out, the phone call came straight to the front of my mind again," Hateley said. "[At the time] I didn't know if it was a hoax or it was real. I know it was real now because of the proceedings that followed.

"I felt 100% cheated, it was a once in a lifetime chance [for Rangers]. [Marseilles] should be stripped [of the Champions League]. Why haven't the powers-that-be taken action?"