Former Marseille owner Bernard Tapie has revealed that their bizarre strategy of publicly branding Abedi Pele as HIV positive dissuaded their closest rivals Monaco in the hot race to sign the Ghana legend in 1987.
The owner of the French giants says he conspired with a key official of Monaco in 1987 transfer race to ensure that they grabbed the African superstar from Mulhouse at the expense of their arch rivals who had the bigger offer for the ‘Maestro’.
The Ghanaian player, who prefered a deal with Marseille rather than Monaco was also sold into the idea and agreed to play along.
The controversial club president says his decision to brand the Ghana star as HIV positive and bribing the Monaco official into submission ensured that the bizarre strategy worked to perfection.
Abedi Pele was in 1987 the hottest player in demand in France and knowing that Monaco had the money to defeat them in the intense race to sign the Ghanaian the only way Marseille was going to win the battle was to deploy the AIDS plan.
The Ghanaian’s then club Mulhouse had agreed to release the player to Monaco because of their financial offer but had to undergo a medical before the deal is sealed.
Tapie invaded the staff of Monaco by bribing them to concoct the bizarre lie to ensure that Abedi Pele’s medical was twisted to reflect that he was HIV positive.
The revelation of the false medical report instantly killed Monaco interest in the Ghana star which resulted in Marseille creeping in from behind to sign the talented midfielder.
“You know what, I told the player (Pele) that when he arrives at Monaco for the medical examination , he will be asked to take a blood test which is done for African players but that he should not agree, that he should tell them he cannot support the blood test,” Tapie told the Le Monde newspaper in the shocking revelation.
“At the same time I conspired with an employee at AS Monaco who was a known figure within the club and instructed him to fabricate a falsehood that the player was HIV positive.
“You know we escaped beautifully and the plan worked well . He told me we (Monaco) didn’t take Pele because he is HIV positive”
The well worked strategy ensured that Marseille signed Abedi Pele ahead of Monaco Marseille and few years later the Ghanaian legend helped them to win the UEFA Champions league in 1993.
Tapei says such bad tactics are justified in football as it helps in the key ambition of winning.
“Its like that , you have to win” said the 74-year old Tapie.
The club owner also revealed the controversial and dangerous plan of lacing the drinks of tempestuous and strict coach Raymond Goethals with the tranquilizer valium to calm him down and allo players to go out with girls at the hotel the day before a game will be played.
“I am ashamed of myself but we have to accept what we are, with the good and the bad,” Tapie added.
Tapie’s Marseille were stripped of a Ligue 1 title in 1993 for allegedly fixing a league game against Valenciennes before their Champions league final versus AC Milan.
Marseille later suffered demotion in France due to the match fixing as Tapei himself was slapped with a 2-year prison sentence for financial irregularities.
Tapie’s revelations go on to confirm public perceptions that the game is never a clean sport and serious things happen behind the scenes that could only come to public knowledge by some of these disclosures.